Two Transocean rigs pull out of ONGC tender

Vol 14, PW 18 (10 Mar 11) Exploration & Production

Transocean is believed to have withdrawn two of three semisubmersibles offered in a separate ONGC tender after realising its quotes violated the tender terms.

PETROWATCH learns Transocean created a flutter in the industry when on February 25 it abruptly pulled out two of its rigs, GSF Rig 135 and GSF Rig 140, from an ONGC tender to hire a semisubmersible to drill in water depths of 300 metres. This now leaves only two rigs in the race: MG Hulme Jr, also a Transocean rig, but cold stacked offshore Malaysia, and Essar Oilfield’s Essar Wildcat, drilling her second well for Vietsovpetro offshore Vietnam.

An industry source alleges that Transocean’s move followed queries by ONGC on February 15 about whether or not it had quoted the same rate for all three rigs. “ONGC sought clarifications on February 15 from both Transocean and Essar and gave them 10 days to respond,” we are told.

Under ONGC’s terms, if a company offers multiple rigs in a tender for just one rig then all those rigs should be offered at the same rate. Our source say he has “strong suspicions” that Transocean may have quoted different rates for each of the two additional rigs it offered to ONGC and then hastily withdrew those rigs once it realised its error.

If true, Transocean could be in big trouble with ONGC for violating a critical condition. Another industry source adds that Transocean’s GSF Rig 135 won a contract around March 1 to drill two ‘firm’ wells and one ‘optional’ well for Addax Petroleum offshore Nigeria, which could explain its decision to withdraw the rig.

“But GSF Rig 140 will be available after May so it is very surprising that Transocean pulled her out of the race too,” we are told.

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