Wednesday, September 27, 2000

Pride acquiring additional rigs
Pride International, Inc. has reached an agreement to acquire two additional semisubmersible drilling rigs, both currently located in the North Sea. They are

  • a second generation AKER H-3, and
  • a third generation F&G Enhanced Pacesetter.

The second generation rig is presently idle, while the third generation unit is under charter to an affiliate of Transocean Sedco Forex through September 2001.

Additionally, Pride has agreed to acquire a 250-foot water depth jackup rig, which it has been operating for the past year under a bareboat charter agreement. The jackup is an independent leg, cantilevered model which was rebuilt in 1998 and returned to service in 1999. Pride currently operates the rig offshore Bangladesh.

Pride has agreed to pay $42 million in cash, $75 million in shares of its common stock and 400,000 stock purchase warrants to acquire the semisubmersible rigs. It will pay approximately $22 million in cash for the jackup rig. The transactions are expected to close early in the fourth quarter of 2000, subject to completion of definitive purchase documents.

Paul A. Bragg, President and CEO of Pride, stated, "We are pleased to acquire these three rigs at what we believe are attractive prices. While the market for mid-water depth semisubmersibles has yet to recover as significantly as other offshore drilling segments, we believe that this investment will provide us substantial leverage to improving dayrates when such a recovery occurs. The remaining charter period of about one year on the third generation rig will provide us with some immediate cash flow, as well. The two semisubmersible rigs are the same designs as our existing two mid- water depth units, and accordingly, are highly compatible with our existing fleet."

"The jackup rig was substantially rebuilt and re-equipped just two years ago and we have had excellent operating performance from it. The owner, an exploration and production company, decided to divest the rig, and we are pleased to acquire it. The market for jackup rigs continues to improve, and we are confident that we will have the opportunity to produce a very favorable return on this investment."

Criminal investigation of Greek ferry disaster
The BBC reports that criminal investigation has begun into the sinking of a Greek ferry, the Express Samina in the Aegean Sea in which at least 62 people died.

The BBC says coastguards are baffled as to why the disaster happened as the rocky outcrop which the ferry hit is well marked on nautical maps of the area and lit by a navigation light.

The Greek Justice Minister Michalis Stathopoulos said the accident had been caused by "criminal negligence".

Five members of the vessel's crew, including the ship's captain and his lieutenant, have been detained.

There was also criticism of the state of the 34-year-old ferry. One British guide book, Greek Island Hopping, described the vessel as a "grime bucket" and advised tourists to avoid it.

According to the Equasis data base, the 4,555 gt vessel was built in 1966 and is owned by Minoan Flying Dolphins


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