Drilling/Production news briefs, Sept. 7

Keppel Fels � Transocean Sedco Forex � Caspian Shipyard Co. � SOCAR ... Lukoil � Petroleum Geo-Services ... UTI Energy ... UHC New Mexico

Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev Aug. 29 christened the Keppel Fels Ltd.-built jack up rig Qurtulus in Baku. The rig will be formally delivered to Transocean Sedco Forex Inc. in early September, 2 months ahead of contracted schedule. Capable of drilling in 350 ft of water, Qurtulus is the first new rig of international standard to be completed in the Caspian Sea and enters the market at a time when the Caspian Sea is facing a severe shortage of such drilling rigs. Keppel Fels, Singapore, and its indirect subsidiary, Caspian Shipyard Co. (CSC), built Qurtulus in Singapore. CSC is a joint venture of State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan Republic, Lukoil, and Keppel Fels subsidiary AzerFels.

Petroleum Geo-Services ASA, Oslo, has received permission from the UK Health and Safety Executive and the partners in the UK North Sea Banff oil field�led by Conoco (UK) Ltd.�to modify the Ramform Banff floating production, storage, and offloading vessel. The modification will reduce the FPSO's roll motion by 50%, said vessel operator PGS. The modification will cost less than $20 million and will require a short shipyard stay in the fourth quarter of this year. The Ramform Banff will be back in operation before yearend. When the FPSO returns to the field, the PGS-operated Nordic Apollo floating storage and offloading vessel will be installed in the field (OGJ, Mar. 13, 2000, p. 32). PGS says the permanently moored vessel will make Banff production less weather-dependent.

UTI Energy Corp., Houston, has acquired four drilling rigs for a total $7.65 million in cash. The four rigs have an average depth capacity of 18,000 ft. Three of the rigs are self-elevating, silicon-controlled rectifier, electric rigs. The total cost to bring all four rigs back in service is expected to be about $4.5 million, excluding drill pipe, says UTI. One of the rigs will be operating within 30 days; the other three will be brought into service during the next two quarters, says the firm.

United Heritage Corp., Cleburne, Tex., says its wholly owned subsidiary UHC New Mexico Corp. will begin an infill well drilling program in the northwest portion of the Cato unit in Chaves County, NM, on Oct. 1. The program will consist of as many as five wells, drilled on 20-acre spacing. The move is a result of a thorough geological and engineering review of about 62 well files of bores drilled on 40-acre spacing in four sections of the Cato unit. The review included subsurface mapping of the three pay sections of the San Andreas zone. The first phase of the drilling project calls for the production of up to 1,000 b/d of oil and 1 MMcfd of gas by Dec. 31, 2000.

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