December 8, 2000
Avondale workers approve first union
contract with Litton
Avondale Shipbuilding employees have voted overwhelmingly to approve the terms of their first union contract with Lit ton Industries. In balloting held Wednesday, the company's 1,500 Metal Trades -represented workers approved the agreement by a four-to-one margin.
The 45-month agreement, negotiated by the New Orleans Metal Trades Council, provides an immediate 3 percent wage hike in January as part of an overall 9 percent wage hike paid in three increments. The contract sets up a formal skill progression system which will move the majority of employees into higher-paid categories after working 500 hours in any lower classification.
Negotiators agreed to reduce the shipyard's 91 job categories to 24.
Wages under the agreement range from $8.25 per- hour for semi-skilled new hires to $16.00 per hour at the top of the highest skill level.
"These were difficult negotiations, conducted in an amicable atmosphere with an employer who shared our interest in developing a functional agreement which would improve the wages and conditions of Avondale's workers,'' declared John Meese, president of the national Metal Trades Council."The negotiating team and Avondale's workers are proud that we were able to open a new era for Avondale's workers under which they will enjoy the benefits of a unionized work place and a long overdue sense of dignity and respect. This agreement will also add value to the shipyard by enhancing the quality of its products."
The parties will formally sign the contract on December 19. The agreement sets up a series of joint labor management committees to address ongoing concerns of the Avondale workforce, including a Joint Safety and Health Committee and a Joint Labor Management Training Committee to set up skill-level testing and training programs
ENSCO 7500 goes to work
ENSCO International Inc.'s newly constructed, semisubmersible drilling rig, the ENSCO 7500, has completed sea trials and has commenced a three year contract with Bur ling ton Resources Inc. The rig, which was built by Friede Goldman Offshore Texas in Orange, Texas, is currently operating in the Gulf of Mexico East Breaks block 599.
ENSCO Chairman and CEO Carl Thorne said: "The ENSCO 7500 will address the heart of the deep water market and is in keeping with ENSCO's focus on efficiently expanding its capabilities for deeper water and deeper drilling applications. We are extremely pleased that we could deliver this asset on time and within budget. This unique accomplishment would not have been possible without the outstanding performance by our vendors, particularly the shipyard, Friede Goldman Halter, and the professionalism and support of our customer, Bur ling ton Resources Inc.''
The drilling rig is ABS classed +A1, AMS, column stabilized drilling unit with a DPS2 notation for dynamic positioning, meaning the vessel can sustain a failure without interruption of its station-keeping capability. The rig has a drill depth rating of 30,000 feet and can operate in waters up to 8,000 feet.
The rig is an ENSCO proprietary design intended for work in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Brazil, West Africa or Asia. Construction and commissioning of the rig was completed in approximately twenty-four months at a total cost of about $217 million, which includes the cost of a spare BOP stack, subsea control system and riser string.
First ACP rig
ENSCO 7500 is the first rig to complete certificate of inspection requirements under the U.S. Coast Guards (USCG) Alternate Compliance Program (ACP), as facilitated by ABS of Houston
"ACP provides rig owners with a one-stop shop for certification, creating efficiency and improved reliability with fewer interfaces, says Lynnda Pekel, ABS project manager for the "ENSCO 7500."
A spokesperson for ENSCO involved in the rig commissioning commented on the compliance process: "The USCGs Alternate Compliance Program proved to be straight-forward, efficient and cost-effective, involving less paperwork than we expected. All the people involved in the certification process contributed to the success of the ENSCO 7500 project."
T Bret Montaruli, P.E., ABS manager of Engineering Services, says the vision for ACP reflects the mutual mission of ABS and USCG: the protection of life, property and the natural environment. He reports that, in cooperation with USCG, ABS researched and developed the "ABS U.S. MODU (mobile offshore drilling unit) Supplement," a single-source document that facilitates the certification process on behalf of USCG.
The Supplement addresses criteria from existing USCG regulations deemed critical and not already provided for in ABS Rulesa primary area being life-saving appliancesand International Conventions.
Montaruli explains that both ABS and USCG cover many of the same issuesincluding vessel structure, stability, piping, electrical, mechanical, safety and other related issuesbut in some cases take a different approach in the inspection or application of certain technical regulations.
"In essence, the Supplement provides the road map for ABS to act on behalf of the USCG in certifying offshore rigs," said Montaruli.
To further simplify the certification process, ABS acts on behalf of the USCG to issue International Maritime Organization (IMO) MODU certification. The IMO MODU codeapplied on behalf of the Flag State Administrationaddresses additional safety issues and environmental requirements. The USCG, adds Montaruli, requires IMO MODU certification for all MODUs certified under ACP.
"Using ACP, customers may experience some cost reductions; however, the primary benefit is less interface with USCG, faster turn-around on reviews, faster decision-making, and, in general, a more streamlined workflow," said Montaruli.
ABS dedicated a team of more 20 people to facilitate the ACP process for the ENSCO 7500. Disciplines included piping, electrical, mechanical, structural, stability, safety and fire protection and site survey. ABS Group, an affiliate of ABS, also contributed to the project, conducting risk analysis of equipment to ensure emergency service in the event of a failure.
Vendor coordination program
ABS enhanced the value of the ACP process on the "ENSCO 7500 project with its vendor coordination program. ABS vendor coordination program helps manage the certification process, providing a single point of contact for vendors and customers.
The vendor coordination program also helps ensure that equipment arriving at the yard is ABS-certified and complies with applicable Rules, standards and regulations. This effort, says Pekel, can avert delays on construction and assembly resulting from incomplete documentation or miscommunication on specifications.
"The ENSCO project included some 500 purchase orders from about 400 vendors. ABS vendor coordination program helped to ensure communication among all parties for both technical issues and survey activities," said Pekel.
Montaruli adds that any document out of place could potentially hold up an entire project. "Its important to have a group of engineers whose sole purpose is to keep this process moving smoothly, and to have a documented system for future maintenance and replacement," he said.
ABS is presently developing a website with password access so owners can check vendor status on a daily basis. ABS expects to offer this service by early 2001.
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