Chevron bringing in offshore vessels

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Partnership preparing for Orphan drilling in 2013

Chevron logo. - (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

A lack of available offshore service vessels has Chevron Canada planning to bring in ships from outside the region in order to be able to drill an exploration well in the Orphan Basin in 2013 as planned.

The work is part of a standing partnership agreement on exploration between Chevron, Statoil and Repsol E&P.

“The worldwide petroleum industry is extremely short of large, high-capacity marine vessels to support these type of rig operations,” a representative for Chevron said in response to questions from The Telegram this week.

Chevron issued an expression of interest — a call for vessels — early this year.

By March, the company was promoting the call through venues such as Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association (Noia) emails to members.

If someone brings in outside vessels, the Canadian Transportation Agency has to have a look to see if any local or Canadian vessels are able to do the job, as required under the Coasting Trade Act. If no vessel is available here, the outside vessel can be licensed for work.

At least three applications from Chevron have been recently reviewed by the agency.

On Nov. 8, Canadian Transportation Agency notices stated Chevron had sought a permit for use of the Norwegian platform support ship Troms Castor and the Danish vessel Magne Viking, the latter being an “anchor‑handling tug supply ship.”

In both cases the permits were requested for the use of the ships in the drilling of a single, deepwater explorations well in the Orphan Basin, to be completed between March 1 and Oct. 31 of 2013.

A third was posted Nov. 9, regarding an application for permitting the use of “an unknown anchor-handling tug supply ship” for the same scope of work. The stated timeline in that case was April 1 to Oct. 31.  

In all three cases, the agency’s initial finding was that no Canadian ships had been offered for the work, and the files have been forwarded to federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews for final approval.

Meanwhile, Chevron’s planned work with Statoil (with a 15 per cent equity stake) and Repsol (20 per cent) in 2013 will not be the first time the company has been oil seeking in the Orphan Basin.

The company drilled two wells in the area in a past partnership with Shell, Imperial and ExxonMobil.

Aside from drilling the Orphan Basin well, the current Chevron-Statoil-Repsol partnership has committed to exploring two parcels of offshore land in the Flemish Pass Basin, about 400 kilometres east of St. John’s. In that case, Statoil has a 50 per cent stake, whereas Chevron has 40 per cent and Repsol 10.

Organizations: Statoil, Canadian Transportation Agency, Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association Noia Repsol

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