Noble Corporation reported that its offshore drilling units located in the main path
of Hurricane Rita, a Category 5 hurricane offshore, were safely evacuated
prior to the storm's arrival and that all the company's units in the U.S. Gulf
of Mexico have been secured.
Four semisubmersibles operating in Green Canyon blocks, the Noble Therald
Martin, Noble Paul Romano, Noble Amos Runner and Noble Max Smith, broke away
from their mooring lines as Hurricane Rita passed. The company was able to
track the location of the units during the storm using global positioning
system (GPS) technology installed onboard each of the units. The Noble
Therald Martin, Noble Paul Romano, Noble Amos Runner and Noble Max Smith moved
approximately 89 miles, 118 miles, 75 miles and 123 miles, respectively, off
their original locations.
Noble assessment crews have been onboard each unit
for preliminary evaluations of condition.
In addition, the Noble Lorris Bouzigard semisubmersible broke at least one
of its 10 mooring lines, with the remaining lines holding the unit in position
approximately 0.8 of a mile off its original location, and the submersible
Noble Joe Alford moved approximately 8 miles off its original location.
Principal damage to the Noble Max Smith comprised a hole of approximately
8 feet by 20 feet in its starboard outboard column at the 96 foot level, a
crossover deck on the starboard side, and the main deck outboard of an anchor
winch. An industry publication has erroneously reported that the Noble Max
Smith was "blown off location and straight into Chevron's Tension Leg Platform 'Typhoon'."
After its mooring lines broke, the Noble Max Smith passed
approximately 2.5 miles to the south and west of the fixed location of the
Typhoon TLP, based on the rig direction indicator data from Noble's GPS
Principal damage to the Noble Joe Alford comprised bent
or broken support
members below the hull. Based on the limited and preliminary investigations
conducted to date, the company believes it will need to make repairs to the
Noble Max Smith and Noble Joe Alford in a shipyard, while it may be possible
to complete an investigation and damage assessment, and make any necessary
repairs, of the other units without taking them to a shipyard. The company
has secured slots for the units if necessary in shipyards in Sabine Pass,
Texas, and Pascagoula, Mississippi.
The company is not able to make a complete assessment of the condition of
the units until additional crew members and other technical personnel are able
to conduct further surveys. High levels of offshore drilling activity in
recent periods have led to reduced availability and extended delivery times of
some offshore drilling equipment, materials and supplies, which could result
in delays in returning units to operational status. Latent damage to the
units or delays in shipyard repair projects could also adversely impact
schedules to return the units to operational status. Additional information
will be released after further survey of the condition of the units.