Smedvig to Provide Drilling Services for Research Vessel

Smedvig has been awarded a letter of intent by Global Ocean Development Inc. in Japan for the provision of drilling related services to the Chikyu deepwater research vessel project.

The provision of services includes specialist personnel for the supervision and follow-up of the installation and commissioning activities related to the drilling packages on the vessel, assistance with operations preparations and test program development and the provision of personnel for drilling operations.

The deepwater drill ship Chikyu, which is under construction at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan, will be used by the Centre for Deep Earth Exploration (CDEX), as part of Japan's "Ocean Drilling in the 21st Century" (OD21) program. This program is again part of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, which is an international scientific research co-operation between the USA, Japan and the EU. Chikyu is owned by Japan Marine Science and Technology Centre (JAMSTEC), who reports to the Japanese Government's Ministry of Science and Technology.

Smedvig will provide to the project some 8 -10 specialists during the project phase and between 45 - 50 people will be involved in the operations phase. The contract value for the initial part of the project is approximately NOK 20 million.

Chikyu will be one of the most advanced drilling vessels in the world when it goes into operation in mid 2005. The vessel is designed to operate in water depths up to 4,000 meters with riser and BOP and in water depths up to 7,000 meters in a riser-less mode. Further, it will have the capacity to handle a drill string length up to 12,000 meters. In addition to the drilling facilities, living quarters, etc., there is a four-storey laboratory block, which is outfitted with the latest scientific and research equipment for use by the 50 scientists who will be on board the vessel. Chikyu, which means "Earth" in Japanese, is to be utilized in a scientific research program to better understand the earth's geophysical, geological and environmental systems. The base for the operations will be in Japan, although the operating region for the Chikyu is expected to be worldwide.

"The Chikyu assignment is an exciting pioneer project which offers Smedvig a special opportunity to demonstrate our extensive deep water competence and experience. Furthermore, it will provide us with an opportunity to gain additional valuable experience at the very forefront of deepwater drilling developments," says CEO Kjell E Jacobsen of Smedvig.