Wednesday, February 9, 2000

Now Bureau Veritas proposes
tanker safety
French Navy photographinitiatives
On Monday, ABS responded to the Erika disaster with proposals for tough new classification standards for tankers. Yesterday it was the turn of Bureau Veritas. It announced that it will tomorrow, February 10, make proposals proposals to the French government for changes to survey practice and IMO rules.

Bernard Anne, senior vice president and head of BV's Marine Division says, "These proposals will help improve the efficiency of surveys and provide early warning of potential problems."

Anne adds, "Today, even if we do not have sufficient information to clearly establish the causes of the Erika sinking, it is of primary importance to the whole shipping industry to focus its efforts on tanker safety in order to avoid any repetition of such a casualty. These efforts should extend to include all tankers, not just the older ones, because it is beyond dispute that other factors, including the size and age of the vessel, and the type and nature of products carried, can have an effect on overall safety.

"All parties involved must contribute ideas and initiatives, which should then be consolidated at an international level. This is the purpose of the meeting being organized by the French government on Thursday, at which Bureau Veritas will put forward a number of proposed initiatives."

BV's proposals fall into three main categories:

  • The use of computerized information to facilitate the development of databases which can record a
    comprehensive history of individual vessels and their previous survey findings, including thickness
    measurements, structural wastage, the condition of coatings, details of any damage, and of any repairs carried out. In addition, with modern computer software, evaluation of global structure and identification of critical areas could be obtained at each special survey through direct structural analysis with a finite element method. This calculation could also include a fatigue evaluation.
  • BV also proposes strengthening IMO Resolution A744 (18) so that all ships of fifteen years of age or more would be required to have intermediate surveys in a completely gas-free condition to allow access to all cargo tanks as necessary, the ballast tanks of all product tankers would be subject to close inspection during periodical surveys, additional thickness measurements of critical areas would be required, and the top and bottom of all cargo tanks on new product tankers would have a white coating.
  • BV proposes, too. that all Port State Control reports should be forwarded to the relevant classification society, irrespective of whether there are any defects.

INTERTANKO wants IACS to investigate the Erika accident
French Navy photographWhile ABS's Frank Iarossi says there's "no mystery" about why the Erika sank, the Executive Committee of Intertanko seems to have some lingering doubts. So it wants IACS to investigate.

It noted that the "Erika accident seems to be categorized as a structural failure accordingto the French Accident Report. But there are uncertainties connected to that report and the INTERTANKO's Executive Committee urges IACS to investigate the Erika accident and make the results public."

The INTERTANKO Executive Committee believes that IACS should consider forming anexpert team to give technical support to accident investigations at sea. The findings of such investigations should form the basis for proposed actions to improve the international safety system.

Ocean Rig signs Angola MOU
Ocean Rig ASA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sonangol EP, the state oil company of Angola, agreeing in principle to establish a joint venture. It will build, own and market drilling rigs for ultra deepwater operations in Angola and internationally. It will be owned 49% by Sonangol and 51% by Ocean Rig. The objective is to have the joint venture established this spring.The final establishment of the JVC is dependent on various conditions in the MoU being met.

The parties are reviewing alternatives for constructing new drilling rigs capable of operating in ultradeep waters. Utilization of Ocean Rig's two baredeck units currently laid up at Dalian New Shipyard in China are elements in this process. In the interim, the joint venture will market one of Ocean Rig's Bingo 9000-1 or Bingo 9000-2 rigs for work offshore Angola.

Those two rigs rigs are currently being outfitted at Friede Goldman Offshore, Pascagoula, Miss. Bingo 9000-1 now scheduled for delivery by October 31, 2000, and Bingo 9000-2 by December 31, 2000,under a revised agreement between Ocean Rig and the yard. As part of that agreement, Friede Goldman and Ocean Rig agreed to appoint Umoe Olje og Gass AS as a mutually acceptable independent organization to take responsibility for planning and scheduling the projects until completion They alson agreed to have agreed to retain an independent company,Moduspec, to organize and manage the commissioning of the rigs.

The two baredeck units laid up at Dalian New Shipyard, the Bingo 9000-3 and Bingo 9000-4, are based on a flexible design that makes it possible for the two hulls to be applied for different purposes,

Seacor Smit plans to acquire North Sea standby vessel specialist
Seacor Smit Inc. says it has signed a letter of intent to acquire all of the issued share capital of Putford Enterprises Ltd. and associated companies (collectively known as "Boston Putford").

Boston Putford's standby safety vessels ("SBSV"), certain joint venture interests and vessels, and fixed assets will be acquired, for aggregate consideration of approximately £20.0 million (about $32.2). Boston Putford will also receive approximately £5.0 million (about $8 million) for working capital in the companies at closing.

Boston Putford's SBSV fleetconsists of approximately 18 vessels, including vessels held in joint ventures but excluding those managed for third parties. They operate primarily in the southern U.K .sector of the North Sea.

The purchase will be p[aid £15.0 million in cash, approximately 84,000 shares of Seacor common
stock, and approximately £9.1 million in five year, zero coupon notes having a current value of £6.2 million
and the assumption of certain liabilities. The final price is subject to closing adjustments.

The parties anticipate that the transaction will close by March 31, 2000.

Seacor Chairman and CEO Charles Fabrikant commented, "Boston Putford is the market leader in the SBSV market in the southern North Sea with safety and multi-role vessels working for most of the field operators. Acquiring Boston Putford further enhances our role in the specialist SBSV market and enables SEACOR to better serve a rapidly consolidating client base. In addition, we expect to realize significant cost savings through rationalization of our existing operations."


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