Pride Carlos Walter begins Petrobras contract

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, June 27 -- Pride International Inc.'s newly built semisubmersible rig, the Pride Carlos Walter, began working off Brazil under a 5-year contract for Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras).

The mobile offshore rig is a self-propelled, dynamically positioned vessel capable of drilling in water as deep as 5,000 ft.

Its sister unit, the Pride Brazil, is completing acceptance testing in Brazil and is expected within a few weeks to begin working for Petrobras under a similar 5-year contract. Both of the rigs were built in South Korea.

"With the imminent start of the Pride Brazil and our recent agreement with Petrobras to renew contracts for our two other semisubmersibles in Brazil, we are well established in this important deepwater market and well positioned to achieve attractive returns from our investments in these high specification deepwater rigs," said Paul A. Bragg, president and CEO of the Houston-based drilling contractor.

Earlier this year, Petrobras signed new charter and service contracts at higher day rates of $122,000 -- or more than $500 million for the two new rigs -- replacing the previous contracts let 3 years ago through the Amethyst joint venture (OGJ Online, Jan. 29, 2000). Petrobras also agreed to pay mobilization costs of $16.5 million for the two rigs.

Pride originally had a 30% interest in the troubled Amethyst joint venture that was formed to build, own, and operate four Amethyst-class semisubmersible rigs to work for Petrobras offshore Brazil. But construction of the rigs was delayed because of financing, causing Petrobras to threaten to cancel its original contracts for nondelivery.

At the time Petrobras issued the new contracts, Pride bought out the 61.7% interest in the joint venture held by Maritima Petroleo e Engenharia Ltda. and the 11.9% interest held by affiliates of First Reserve Corp.

For a total investment of $225 million, Pride obtained ownership of two rigs that would have cost $250-$270 million to build in the current market, company officials said at that time.

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