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Gulf of Mexico: BP Extends Discoverer Enterprise Drillship Contract

Transocean has secured a contract extension for its Discoverer Enterprise drillship in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

The nine-month contract extension has been awarded by BP. The extension begins in January next year, with the expiration date set for October 2014. The new dayrate for the drilling unit has been set at $615.000 ($166 million estimated backlog).  The rig’s prior dayrate was $515,000.

Discoverer Enterprise is a fifth generation deepwater double hulled dynamically positioned drillship, capable of operating in moderate environments and water depths up to 3,049 m (10,000 ft).   From 1998 to 2005 the vessel was Panama-flagged and currently flies the flag of convenience of the Marshall Islands.

Also, the company said it sold the standard jackup, GSF Rig 127, which was previously held for sale. The details of the transaction have not been disclosed.

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USA: EAB Rejects Appeals for Review of Shell’s Noble Discoverer OCS Air Permits

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Shell announced on its website that the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) denied all petitions for review of Shell’s Noble Discoverer OCS air permits.

As a result, Shell has, for the first time, usable air permits that will allow the Noble Discoverer to work in the Alaska OCS beginning in 2012.

“Achieving usable permits from the EPA is a very important step for Shell and one of the strongest indicators to date that we will be exploring our Beaufort and Chukchi leases in July. That our air permits for the Noble Discoverer withstood appeal is a testament to the robust nature of the work we have done to have the smallest possible impact on the Arctic air shed and further validates that Shell is a company uniquely-positioned to deliver a world-class drilling program in the Alaska offshore.  We look forward to continued progress on the permitting front and remain committed to working with regulators and stakeholders to achieve all of the permits necessary to drill in 2012.” reads Shell’s statement.

Wilderness Society Director, Lois Epstein, recently expressed her opinion in which she assumed that neither Alaskans, the Nation nor Shell is, “ready to drill safely in the Arctic.” Ms. Epstein signed-on to a letter that claims Shell should be denied Arctic air permits because emissions from their  drilling rigs and oil spill response fleet will accelerate global warming.

Pete Slaiby, Shell Alaska VP responded that “Shell has been arctic-ready for years”, saying that Shell and others have successfully drilled over 35 wells in the Alaska offshore without incident and that “Shell, alone, has dedicated more resources to Arctic science in the last five years than all Federal agencies combined.”

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