Noble Working to Fix Maintenance Issues Raised by Coast Guard

Noble Corp. said it is working to rectify deficiencies and maintenance issues the U.S. Coast Guard found with its Noble Discoverer drillship, located offshore Alaska.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the Noble Discoverer's current customer, started to drill in Alaska's offshore Arctic in September, the first well in more than two decades. A day later, the company said it needed to move the rig as a precaution against sea ice that could move into the area.

The drill rig briefly caught fire in November in Dutch Harbor, an international port in Alaska's Aleutian Islands, according to local media. The reports said the engine backfired, followed by a small, residual fire that was extinguished by the crew.

Offshore drilling contractor Noble said a recent Coast Guard inspection found issues with several components and systems, including the ship's propulsion and safety-management systems.

Noble also said its internal review reported other potential noncompliance issues relating to its operations, including possible unauthorized collected water discharges outside the period of drilling operations.

The company said it has already resolved a number of the issues with the Noble Discoverer and plans to complete the remaining items during its previously scheduled shipyard stay in Washington.

Noble said it and Shell are coordinating with the Coast Guard to review the drillship's operations in Alaska and the impact of the 2012 arctic operating conditions to further strengthen the drillship's readiness and other drilling assets for 2013.

Noble said it is also developing an enhanced plan to ensure its drilling rigs and their related management procedures are in compliance with maritime laws and industry practices.


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