Wildcat will be ready for ONGC tender: Essar

Vol 13, PW 26 (17 Jun 10) Exploration & Production

Essar Oilfields is robustly defending its bid to win an ONGC tender to hire a rig that can drill in 600-metre water depths.

Essar has offered semi-submersible Essar Wildcat to ONGC for this contract, which begins this December and lasts three years. Some doubt Wildcat - equipped to drill only in 400-metre water depths - can be upgraded to ONGC’s specifications in time.

Concern centres on Essar’s decision to deploy Wildcat offshore Vietnam for an assignment lasting until end-October. But when contacted, a senior Essar source dismisses any doubts about the rig’s readiness.

“Essar has given ONGC a plan from (Norwegian rig certification agency) DNV showing that about 80% of the upgrade can be done while the rig is drilling,” he says. Essar, he adds, has also booked 15 days at Singapore’s Keppel FELs yard in November to increase the number of ‘risers’ and lengthen the ‘mooring lines’ on Essar Wildcat.

ONGC, he stresses, has been given documentary proof of this booking, and been told by DNV that this work will take just eight to 10 days. Essar believes the hardest part of this exercise will be actually getting physical delivery of the ‘riser tensioners’, which have been ordered.

“In the worst case scenario,” adds Essar, “we will fit the riser tensioners while the rig is being towed (to India).” Essar insists much of the upgrade can be carried out while the rig is either drilling in Vietnam or in the Singapore shipyard.

“This upgrade can be done in time,” insists Essar. Other bidders are Dolphin Drilling and Transocean, but Dolphin’s price bid for Blackford Dolphin expired on June 4, and the rig is now on en route to Cape Town.

“This leaves just Essar and Transocean (offering GSF 135) competing for this contract,” we hear. Transocean’s worldwide fleet status report dated June 15 discloses that GSF 135 is presently drilling for Total in Congo at $250,000/day, and that her contract ends on July 10 this year.