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Total Extends Drilling Contract for Pacific Scirocco Drillship

Drilling contractor Pacific Drilling S.A. has announced that Total S.A. has elected to exercise a one-year option to extend the firm contract term for the Pacific Scirocco to January 2015.

The contract provides for a further option, to be exercised at the client’s discretion by April 7, 2014, which could result in two additional years of contract term at a higher dayrate.

Related:  Pacific Scirocco Drillship Begins Work in Nigeria

The additional one year term increases the drillship’s backlog by approximately $180 million, bringing the company’s total contract backlog as of April 9, 2013, to approximately $3.4 billion. The additional extension for two years would add a further $364 million backlog if exercised.

The Pacific Scirocco is capable of operating in water depths of up to 12,000 feet and drilling wells 40,000 feet deep.

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Total sends fire-fighting ships near N.Sea gas leak

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By Oleg Vukmanovic and Muriel Boselli
LONDON/PARIS | Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:08am EDT

(Reuters) – France’s Total sent fire-fighting ships to wait near the scene of a gas leak from its North Sea Elgin platform, which has created fears a large gas cloud could explode.

The company said the gas was originating thousands of meters below the sea bed, which engineers said might mean that a relief well – one possible option to stop the leak – could take months to drill.

“The leak is from a (gas) well that was plugged one year ago and from a rock formation in about 4,000 meters depth,” a company spokeswoman in Aberdeen said on Thursday.

A flare needed to relieve pressure in the platform by purging excess gas has continued to burn less than 100 meters from the leak, and engineers said changes in wind and weather could lead to an explosion.

“The wind is pushing the gas cloud in the opposite direction (from the platform). At this time, the circumstances are rather favorable,” Jacques-Emmanuel Saulnier, head of communication at Total said in an interview published on Total’s website.

“A gas cloud is always a fire hazard,” he added.

Total kept two fire-fighting ships in a state of readiness outside a two-mile exclusion zone, which was set up to protect marine traffic, a Total spokeswoman said.

The company has also brought in a robot vessel, not yet deployed, to scan the sea bed for signs of spillage, she said.

Total has not yet found a way to stop the gas leak. A team of international engineers assembled by the embattled French oil company are drawing up plans to tackle the leak and prevent the flare from coming into contact with the gas cloud, the spokeswoman said.

The platform is currently off limits to the engineers, however, given the toxic and explosive plumes pumping out of the wellhead.

The leak started on Sunday and forced the evacuation of all 238 workers from the platform, which sits in waters less than 100 metres deep and 240 km (150 miles) off the east coast of Scotland.

PRESSSURE SEEN FOR RELIEF WELL

Total warned on Tuesday it could take six months to halt the flow of gas. The company previously stated it hoped the leak would die down from natural causes as reservoir pressure drops.

“What we know is that the leak is not coming from a well dug by Total but from a naturally occurring pocket of gas located just above one of our wells,” said Total’s Saulnier.

The depth of the non-producing reservoir that is feeding gas to the Elgin platform via compromised layers of piping suggests, however, there is more gas present rather than less, piling pressure on Total to drill a relief well, an engineer with knowledge of the matter said.

Relief drilling would require boring through 4 kilometers of rock with painstaking mathematical precision, because it must intercept the gas pocket at exactly the right point, requiring constant alterations in course, the engineer said.

The leak, one of the biggest in the North Sea for decades, could well inspire tougher safety regulation in due course, according to experts. Britain’s health and safety watchdog said it was considering launching an investigation into the incident, while union officials said the frequency of offshore safety lapses had become intolerable.

Memories are still raw in the North Sea industry of the Piper Alpha platform fire 24 years ago, which killed 167 people in the world’s deadliest offshore oil disaster and led to a major regulatory overhaul.

Total as well as UK authorities have described the expected environmental impact from the plume of gas and a spreading sheen of light oil on the water as “minimal”, although environmental experts said much of the gas “cocktail” would be either flammable or poisonous at close quarters.

Total’s shares have lost about 9 percent in the wake of the incident. They were trading at 37.63 euros at 1305 GMT.

Analysts said the French oil major could face costs of up to $10 billion if its North Sea gas leak leads to an explosion and nearly $3 billion if it takes months to fix.

However, Jefferies securities and investment bank said in a research note that data that had emerged on the spill, which “has further convinced us that the spill consequences should be less than the most pessimistic market estimates and hence that the US$9.7 billion sell-off in the stock since Monday is overdone”.

(Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein and Karolin Schaps in London and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris; Editing by Jane Baird)

Pacific Scirocco Drillship Begins Work in Nigeria

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Pacific Drilling, a growing offshore drilling company that provides global drilling services to the oil and natural gas industry through the use of ultra-deepwater drillships announced today that the Pacific Scirocco drillship commenced operations offshore Nigeria on December 31, 2011.

The drillship is contracted for an initial one-year term to a subsidiary of a French oil and gas giant, Total S.A. The contract further provides for options, to be exercised at the client’s discretion, which could result in up to four additional years of contract term.

The Pacific Scirocco is an upgraded Dual Activity Samsung 12000 design dynamically-positioned drillship capable of operating in water depths of up to 12,000 feet and drilling wells 40,000 feet deep.

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Total Concerned With Possibility that Sabine Pass LNG Export Permit Could Be Rescinded

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Posted: December 21, 2011

A report in “Poten & Partners – LNG in World Markets” suggests that Total remains interested in an LNG export deal with Cheniere Energy at the Sabine Pass terminal, but that the French company is concerned about contractual provisions that would require Total to pay a fixed charge for two years following declaration of force majeure. According Platts LNG Daily [subscription required], force majeure provisions would apply if both of Cheniere’s LNG export authorizations are revoked.

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Australia: All Ichthys Approvals on Track, INPEX Says

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INPEX CORPORATION (INPEX) today said all approvals, including Production Licences, for the Ichthys LNG Project, which is 76% owned by INPEX and 24% owned by Total, are on track for the Project to make a Final Investment Decision (FID) targeted by the end of the year 2011.

Offshore, INPEX intends to install a floating central processing facility (CPF) to develop the Ichthys Field. The greater part of the condensate will be transferred from the field via a subsurface pipeline to a nearby floating production; storage and offtake (FPSO) facility where it will be treated and transferred to offtake tankers for export.

Natural gas from the field will be directed through an approximately 850km long gas export pipeline from the field to the onshore facilities in Darwin for processing into LNG and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

The resource estimates for the Ichthys Field are 12.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 527 million barrels of condensate.

The Project is expected to produce more than 8 million tonnes of LNG and 1.6 million tonnes of LPG per annum. It will also produce 100 000 barrels of condensate per day at peak.

Proposed Offshore Facilities

Semi-submersible central processing facility (CPF)

Floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) unit

Umbilicals, risers and flowlines

Subsea pipeline 850 kilometres from the Ichthys field to Blaydin Point, Darwin

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