Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Act One Closed; Act Two Closing: Kulluk on the Move


Once again, we've been bamboozled by Royal Dutch Shell. Yesterday they hinted at a Friday departure for Singapore after stopping in Broad Bay.

But obviously, the Xiang Rui Kou is steaming into the Bering Sea Great Circle Route to Asia. The Foss tugs are also leaving, so finally, the agonizing adventure of Shell's Lost Season finally comes to an end...


Who would have guessed?  

I go out for a few hours; run errands, walk the dog, empty the garbage and watch Judge Judy.

Following dinner I come in my office and sign on - only to find the the Xiang Rui Kou dry docking the Kulluk stopped a short distance from Captains Bay - now at anchor in Broad Bay.

As usual with this move, neighther Royal Dutch Shell nor the US Coast Guard, are forthcoming about the delay.  Apparently the transit to Singapore will begin on Friday.

We'll see...


We've received word that the Chinese Overseas Shipping Company's (COSCO) heavy lift vessel Xiang Rui Kou has just departed Dutch Harbor. (12:00 pm PDST.)

She will deliver Royal Dutch Shell's Conical Dome Module Kulluk to Singapore for repairs.

Shell's 2012 Arctic Expeditionary force began to unravel when the drill ship Noble Discoverer limped into Seward, Alaska, with mechanical problems in late December 2012. The vessel was inspected and "red lined" by the US Coast Guard.

That incident was followed shortly thereafter when the Drill Module Kulluk parted its towline and was beached over New Years.


Noble Discoverer was dry docked by heavy lift vessel Xiang Yun Kou, for delivery to South Korea.  She arrived abeam Okpo-dong, South Korea  on March 23rd. (Just south of Busan.)

In a bizarre twist of destiny, last Tuesday - March 12th - Xiang Yun Kou, transiting the Great Circle Route,

passed within miles of her sister, Xiang Rui Kou, dry docking the Kulluk in Dutch Harbor!

Additional Casualties 

Royal Dutch Shell reportedly identified VP David Lawrence,some times referred to as "Lawrence of Alaska" as the "sacrificial lamb" to shoulder the blame for the 2012 Arctic Drilling Season Debacle.

David "Lawrence of Alaska" Lawrence
Shareholders are a little miffed with the Corporation.

Seizing the Moment 

Reuters recently quoted Mike Faust, Chukchi Sea Program Manager for ConocoPhillips:

"ConocoPhillips plans to drill up to two exploration wells in remote Arctic waters next year and is undeterred by numerous setbacks suffered there by rival Royal Dutch Shell." 

Faust was speaking before the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) annual Arctic Open Water Meeting in Anchorage, March 6th.

Faust went on to say, "ConocoPhillips would take Shell's experience into account, but said there were key differences between their respective Arctic efforts. 

"We're not going to bring up a 30-year-old piece of equipment." 

Used Vessels

Faust was referring to the aged fleet Shell put together, some claim on the cheap, because no new vessels were purpose-built for the Chukchi - Beaufort Seas expedition.

Noble Discoverer IMO 6608608
•  15,296 DWT
•  Built 1966 as freighter Matsushiro Maru. Vessel report shows her loading logs in Olympia, Washington.

•  1972 sold to Hester Shipping Co., Panama renamed Jessica.
•  1974 Renamed Offstar
•  1976 Converted from cargo ship to drill ship at Avondale Yard, New Orleans, renamed Discoverer 511. 

She was cut crosswise in half at the Avondale shipyard in New Orleans and a fifty foot middle section was removed. This was replaced with a sixty foot turntable section. This turntable allowed the drilling rig to keep the same physical orientation while the ship was swiveled so it always pointed into the waves. The center section was held stationary by an arrangement of anchors. Some of the orange buoys attached to the anchors are visible in the pictures. The center of the spool, located below the drilling rig and open to the water, was called the moon pool."   [From 7ony Journal.]

•  2001 Norwegian drilling company Frontier has signed a contract to purchase the drillship Discoverer 511 from Ghana National Petroleum Company for $24 million plus transaction costs. After the takeover, planned for between 29 June and 16 July, the ship will be renamed Frontier Discoverer and will operate in Southeast Asia and Oceania.
•  2007  SINGAPORE -- A contract to reactivate the drillship Frontier Discoverer was awarded by Frontier Drilling (Asia) Pte. Ltd. to Pan-United Marine Ltd. Completion is expected in Second Quarter 2007.  Pan United will fabricate and install a sponson tank, install new accommodations, and refurbish the marine and drilling equipment to ice class requirements.  This refurb included new bridge structure forward.

•  2010 The name was changed again to Noble Discoverer when drilling company Frontier Drilling merged with Noble Corporation.
•  2011 Two months exploration well called Ruru, south of the Maui field which has supplied much of New Zealand's gas for the past 30 years
•  2011 Purchased by Shell Oil and sent to Chuchi Sea
•  2012 Retro fit Seattle Washington


Kullu IMO: 8752219
•  9,902 DWT
Earl & Wright/Sedco Arctic drilling vessel: inverted, truncated, conically shaped ice-strengthened hull
•  1983 Beudrill Gulf Limited designed and contracted Mitsui Tamano Engineering & Shipbuilding - Tamano, Japan. deseinged to stay on laocation with ice moving around her.
•  1983 to 1993, the rig was Owned by Beaudrill Gulf Limited and operated by Gulf Canada Resources in the Canadian Arctic. 1993 Mothballed at Tuktoyaktuk, NWT for 12 years!

•  2005 she was acquired by Royal Dutch Shell and underwent intensive refurbishment.
• 2006 Shell awarded a contract to manage and operate Kullu to Frontier Drilling, now part of Noble Corporation
•  2007  Renamed Kulluk

Arctic Drilling requires a back-up unit to support a drill ship. In the event of a blow out, such as the Deepwater Horizon, the companion vessel is immediately available to drill a relief well. Plus that, a "containment" vessel must be on scene, from which a containment dome - containment structure - can be installed over the blowout.

Remember how well that strategy worked in the Gulf of Mexico?

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