West Aquarius back in the bay

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Oil rig returns to Conception Bay for quick fix

The offshore oil rig West Aquarius was sitting in Conception Bay South Monday, with reports it will undergo some unplanned maintenance work.
The rig left the bay Dec. 3, heading out to the Hibernia oilfield. It was turned around and brought back in Friday.

The drill rig West Aquarius floats past the Bell Island ferry terminal as it is towed into Conception Bay Monday afternoon. The Wabana water tower sits at the top of the hill in the background. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Seadrill is the company responsible for the rig. According to rig manager Tor-inge Gran, there is need of repair work, but it is expected to be a quick fix.

“There was some repair work related to our mooring chains,” he told The Telegram Monday.

He said chain required for the work is being shipped in from outside the province, but is already en route.

The rig will only be in the bay for “a fairly short stay,” he added, before the work is completed and it is on its way back to the Jeanne d’Arc Basin, about 350 kilometres offshore.

The semi-submersible West Aquarius is effective in deep waters, able to begin drilling 10,000 feet below the surface of the water. Built in 2009, it is leased for roughly $572,000 a day.

It is currently being operated under a multi-year contract to ExxonMobil and was originally scheduled to be put to work offshore Newfoundland from January 2013 to October 2015.

“In October Seadrill Partners entered into contract negotiations on the West Aquarius for an

18-month extension for the operations off the East Coast of Canada, subject to partner approval, thereby extending operations through April 2017,” stated a recent third-quarter report from Seadrill. The report was released Nov. 25.

“The necessary partner app-rovals for the extension have since been received,” it states.

Seadrill has estimated the contract extension is worth US$337 million, or about $356.4 million.

As part of negotiating the extension to the current contract, a settlement was reached over a delay resulting from required modifications, in order to get the rig ready to work in Canadian waters prior to its heavy use here in 2013. The deal amounts to a non-payment on the rig rental for 37 days — a roughly $23-million cost in earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization.

According to Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board weekly reports on the comings, goings and operations of offshore rigs, the West Aquarius was used for drilling multiple wells throughout the past year and was last used for Statoil and its partners on a test well at the Bay du Nord prospect in the Flemish Pass. That well was started Sept. 16, 2013 and work completed the week of Oct. 14.

When last in Conception Bay South, the rig was a favourite photo target for local residents. Anyone looking for fresh photos should try to get them in within the coming week.



Organizations: ExxonMobil, Seadrill Partners, Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board Statoil

Geographic location: Conception Bay, Gran, Newfoundland East Coast Canada

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Recent comments

  • John
    December 17, 2013 - 21:49

    Yes, indeed they are fracking. There was a huge find under Bell Island.

  • david
    December 17, 2013 - 09:06

    They better not be fracking. Does anyone know if they're fracking? They better not be.

    • saelcove
      December 17, 2013 - 10:39

      90 of all drilling is fracking. guess people just woke up