GC Rieber Shipping Grabs 40% Stake in Bluestone Offshore

GC Rieber Shipping has acquired 40% of the shares in Bluestone Offshore Pte. Ltd, a Singapore based company specializing in deepwater geotechnical analysis. The acquisition price is agreed by the parties not to be disclosed. "We continue enhancing our position within subsea," says CEO of GC Rieber Shipping Sven Rong. "Deepwater geotechnical analysis is an attractive niche segment with few players, significant growth and high entry barriers. Our activities within subsea will be expanded and at the same time we strengthen our position in the growing Asian market."

Bluestone Offshore is an offshore oil & gas services company that specializes in deepwater geotechnical analysis (core drilling).

Bluestone will have its first vessel, the ROV support vessel Bluestone Topaz (previously the Toisa Mariner), delivered end May 2008. The vessel will be upgraded and equipped with a derrick system and drill pipe capable of operating in water depths of up to 1,800 meters, which is suitable for most offshore locations in the Asian region. The vessel is expected to be in operation by end 2008. Total capital expenditure for the vessel purchase and subsequent conversion is expected to be approximately USD 20 million, which will be funded through a combination of equity and bond financing. Further plans include investing in two more vessels, targeting extended operation in 2009 and 2010. The strategy also includes investments in additional laboratories.

"Asia is the fastest growing region in the world for subsea services," comments Sven Rong and continues. "By acquiring a stake in Bluestone, we get a financially attractive entrance into this market with moderate risk, and in addition we can benefit from combined utilization of vessels."

Through performance mechanisms and share options under the Shareholders Agreement entered into with the other major shareholders of Bluestone, GC Rieber Shipping`s stake in Bluestone may increase or be reduced, but is expected to be in the range between 34 % - 40 %.