Transocean: Rig Off Ghana Remains Stable after Taking On Water

HOUSTON (Dow Jones Newswires), July 8, 2011

Transocean said Thursday that the deep-water drilling rig off Ghana that was evacuated Wednesday after it took on water remains stable.

The company is working on unmooring the Transocean Marianas, which is anchored some 46 miles offshore, and plans to tow it to sheltered water to inspect damage, spokesman Guy Cantwell said.

It will likely be at least a week before a full damage assessment can be made, Cantwell said.

There have been no injuries and a skeleton crew remain aboard the vessel, Cantwell said. And because the rig was not drilling when it began taking on water, there is no risk of an oil spill.

Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon, which exploded last year while drilling a well for BP in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 and touching off the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Since then Transocean has faced scrutiny over its safety procedures and maintenance of the world's largest offshore drilling fleet.

More than 100 workers were evacuated from the Marianas on Wednesday when it was discovered to have taken on water. A semisubmersible rig, the Marianas floats on large ballast tanks, or pontoons, which are filled with water for stability during drilling and emptied to ease transport. It was built in 1976 and upgraded to drill in depths up to 7,000 feet in 1998.

The rig had been drilling for ENI and was in the process of being moved to drill an exploration well for Kosmos Energy and partners that include Anadarko, Tullow Oil and Ghana's national oil company.

The Marianas was expected to arrive on site next week and Kosmos on Thursday asked Ghana for more time to begin drilling the prospect while it searches for a new rig.

The loss of income from the Marianas, which earned $450,000 a day on its contract with ENI, will likely trim Transocean's earnings by 15 cents per share this year, analysts with Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. said in a client note.

"As of now we are assuming rig does not work for rest of 2011," the Houston-based analysts said.

Copyright (c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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