TS Dolly enters gulf; Noble evacuates deepwater rigs

Noble has evacuated more than 165 people from two deepwater semisubmersible drilling rigs that may be affected by Tropical Storm Dolly, now entering the Gulf of Mexico.

Nina M. Rach
Drilling Editor

HOUSTON, July 21 -- Noble Corp. has evacuated more than 165 people from two deepwater semisubmersible drilling rigs that may be affected by Tropical Storm Dolly, now entering the Gulf of Mexico. Noble's John Breed told OGJ that 100 workers on the Noble Clyde Boudreaux and more than 65 on the Noble Max Smith were being evacuated after Noble considered the likely path of the storm.

The Noble Clyde Boudreaux was undergoing inspections at Shell's Perdido prospect in 7,800 ft of water, about 200 miles south of Freeport, Tex., in the US gulf. The Max Smith had recently moved to Mexican waters off the western Yucatan in preparation to begin a 3-year contract for Petroleos Mexicanos in the Bay of Campeche. Personnel were being moved off the two rigs "in an abundance of caution," Breed said.

Noble has 11 jack up rigs in Mexican gulf waters. All follow US air-gap standards and are remaining at work at this time, Breed said. The company has eight other rigs in US waters.

Operators have also evacuated personnel from four production platforms in US waters, according to the US Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service. MMS activated its "Continuity of Operations Plan," and reports two platforms in the Lake Charles District and two in the Lake Jackson district have been evacuated.

Dolly crossed the northern Yucatan and entered the gulf earlier July 21. The storm is moving west-northwest over the gulf at about 18 mph with maximum sustained winds near 50 mph, according to Miami-based National Hurricane Center.

"Dolly [is] expected to strengthen over the western gulf" and is expected to become a hurricane "within the next day or two before reaching the western Gulf of Mexico coast," NHC said in an advisory issued July 21.

There's a hurricane watch along the Mexican coast from Rio San Fernando north to the US border and along the Texas coast to Port O'Connor. Dolly is the fourth tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which historically ranges June 1 through Nov. 30.

Contact Nina M. Rach at ninar@ogjonline.com.

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