Noble working to correct Alaska drillship deficiencies

Noble DiscovererDECEMBER 28, 2012 — Noble Corporation says that it is working "cooperatively and diligently" to rectify deficiencies and maintenance issues raised by the U.S. Coast Guard during a recent inspection of the drillship Noble Discoverer. The inspection followed a successful drilling season in offshore Alaska.

According to a Bloomberg report, Coast Guard inspectors based in Anchorage boarded the ship after it lost propulsion while docking at Seward in late November. The Captain of the Port issued a detention order on November 29 that held the ship at Seward. That order was lifted December 19, says Bloomberg, and Noble plans to have the Discoverer towed to Vigor Industrial LLC’s shipyard in Seattle.

Noble said yesterday that the Coast Guard has identified several components and systems aboard the drillship for attention, including the ship's propulsion and safety management systems. In connection with an internal review independent of the Coast Guard inspection, Noble reported certain other potential regulatory non-compliance issues that it discovered relating to its operations, including possible unauthorized collected water discharges outside the period of drilling operations.

Noble has already resolved a number of the issues with the Noble Discoverer identified by the Coast Guard and plans to complete the remaining items during a previously scheduled shipyard stay in Washington. The drillship is currently being mobilized to the shipyard. Noble and Royal Dutch Shell (the current customer for the Noble Discoverer), in coordination with the Coast Guard, are also reviewing the drillship's operations in Alaska and the impact of the 2012 arctic operating conditions with the intent of further strengthening the readiness of the drillship and the other drilling assets for 2013.

Additionally, the company is developing an enhanced plan designed to ensure its drilling rigs and their related management procedures are in compliance with applicable maritime laws and leading industry practices.

Noble says that it continues to cooperate with the Coast Guard's ongoing review, as well as conducting its own investigation and a review of its marine management processes and procedures. Noble says it cannot make any assurance as to the timing, impact or outcome of the Coast Guard investigation or its own investigation into these regulatory matters.

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