The Maersk Guardian is returning to operations on the Norwegian shelf following several years of operation on continental shelves abroad. The application process has involved extensive parallel contact with BP as the operator for the planned exploration drilling with Maersk Guardian, and the drilling contractor Maersk Contractors Norge.
Maersk Guardian received an Acknowledgement of Compliance (AoC) in July 2002. The AoC system was voluntary at the time, but was made mandatory from January 1, 2004. This means that an AoC is among the prerequisites for mobile drilling facilities aiming to conduct drilling operations on the Norwegian shelf.
One of the obligations inherent in an AoC is that the facility is in proper working order. The PSA has been kept continuously informed that there have been deviations from the Norwegian regulatory requirements while the facility has been operating on other countries' shelves.
BP conducted an audit of the Maersk Guardian in the autumn of 2006 in preparation for the planned drilling operation on the Norwegian shelf, and found several new deviations that had not been described before.
The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway conducted their own audit of the facility in January 2007, and identified several further deviations from the regulatory requirements. The deviations were more extensive than described in the former dialogues between the drilling contractor and the PSA. Several of the deviations were related to insufficient maintenance of the facility.
We informed the rig owner in a letter of January 26th that the result of these findings was that the conditions for an AoC were no longer present, which meant that the facility could not be used for drilling activities on the Norwegian Shelf. The facility was docked at a shipyard in Rotterdam at the time.
The facility has since been through wide-ranging upgrades and improvements. We have received documentation on renewed compliance with the regulations through meetings and documents received from Maersk. Based on the above, we were able to draw the conclusion on February 19th that the conditions for an AoC for the Maersk Guardian had been restored. Consequently, BP has been granted a consent to use the drilling facility for exploration drilling.
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