Noble and Ensco pull out from PMT drilling tender

Vol 14, PW 16 (10 Feb 11) Exploration & Production

BG’s plans to choose either Noble Drilling or Ensco Maritime this week to drill eight wells at the Panna, Mukta and Tapti (PMT) fields offshore Mumbai have run aground as both drillers have pulled out.

Blame this on the “unduly long” technical evaluation of the bids. Ensco quit, “when called by BG for negotiations” as Ensco 53 got an extension to its present contract offshore Thailand.

Noble said efforts will be made to mobilise Noble Gus Androes before this year’s monsoon season – from May to September - as required by PMT. If unsuccessful, Noble offered post-monsoon mobilisation but without paying penalty.

Noble had informed PMT last month it could mobilise pre-monsoon only if it had a contract by January 15. PMT partners BG, ONGC and Reliance are now scrambling to locate a suitable rig.

ONGC and Reliance had suspected BG of favouring Ensco in this tender where six bids were received by the December 14 deadline. “Aban Offshore (offering Aban-IV) was disqualified by BG as its safety management system was not ‘mature’,” claims a source.

“Noble was retained only after agreeing to (Reliance and ONGC) suggestions to provide ‘marine warranty survey certification’ within three weeks if it won the contract.” ONGC and Reliance wanted Aban in the race too, as Aban-IV is offshore India and “could be offered at a very good rate.

” Nevertheless, PMT partners temporarily set aside their differences and finished evaluating bids by January 24, finding Noble and Enso to be technically qualified. When price bids were opened on January 29, Ensco 53 was offered at $79,000/day plus ‘modification charges’ of $3m plus a ‘mobilisation fee’ of $3.56m and a ‘demobilisation fee’ of $3.56m.

Noble Gus Androes was offered at $105,000/day plus a mobilisation fee of $2m and a demobilisation fee of $1.2m. “Nobody emerged a clear winner,” we are told.

Ensco 53 has previously worked for PMT while Noble Gus Androes is in the Middle East. Both are now working as accommodation barges.