Pride International, Inc. reports that its ultra-deepwater drillship, the Pride Africa, has successfully completed the recovery of the ship's riser and blowout preventer. The equipment was previously dropped to the sea floor on November 11, 1999,
when the ship's drilling line failed during operations offshore Angola in
approximately 5,400 feet of water. Following the incident, the Pride Africa
sailed to Cape Town, South Africa, where minor repairs were performed. All of the ship's significant systems were inspected and re-certified prior to its return to Angola. The recovery operation commenced on December 24, 1999
and culminated on January 25, 2000 when the ship's blowout preventer was retrieved and brought on board. The Company reports that the blowout preventer appears to have sustained little damage. The Pride Africa will now return to Cape Town for installation of a newly manufactured top drive and to take on board a
replacement blowout preventer and riser. Paul A. Bragg, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pride said, "The recovery of the blowout preventer by the Pride Africa represents a major accomplishment in deepwater. Not only was the equipment isolated by 5,400 feet of water, it was covered by nearly 80 feet of mud and silt. The recovery operation was carried out by the Pride Africa and its own crew utilizing a state-of-the-art ROV guided by underwater cameras. Hydrofans were used to partially excavate mud which covered the equipment. We were able to attach a string of pipe to the blowout preventer, utilizing a spear-like fishing tool which was inserted into a section of 21" riser that remained attached to the top of the 265,000-pound blowout preventer. Once the pipe was securely attached to the blowout preventer, we were able to pump water through the unit to free it from the surrounding compacted soils. With the unit firmly connected, we pulled it to the surface with the ship's standard hoisting equipment. This operation was like threading a needle with a robot from a mile away and represents a significant accomplishment for not only Pride and the personnel of the Pride Africa, but also for our industry. This operation demonstrates the effectiveness of some of the tools which have been developed to undertake difficult drilling tasks in ultra-deepwaters." The company expects the Pride Africa to complete equipment installation and related testing and to return to drilling operations offshore Angola by early April.