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Gibraltar-based Gibdock’s key strategic aim to carve a niche in the growing regional market for jack-up and semi-submersible drilling rig repairs, maintenance and modification work, has moved an important step closer

Following the arrival in October of the 22,604gt Etesco Millennium, a modified semi-submersible built in 1976 by Marathon Le Tourneau and upgraded in 2006,  steel repair work has been carried out afloat and tasks in the pipeline include tank cleaning and repair, and work to enable safe mooring.

An extensive survey of the rig structure is being carried out to ascertain its condition. The rig has been working offshore continually for over five years and Richard Beards, Gibdock commercial director, says: “We are optimistic that the owner will authorise further work to the rig once this survey process is completed and details of the rig’s future deployment are confirmed.”

The contract is an important landmark for Gibdock, which has not handled a drilling rig since 1998.  “We believe that the successful completion of this project will lead to more work of this type,” says Mr Beards. “It is part of our future strategy to get into the semisubmersible and jack-up rig sector and having the Etesco Millennium in Gibdock can only help us to achieve this target.”

In another important initiative to support its rig market strategy, Gibdock has commissioned an extensive survey of the seabed alongside its wharves. Joe Corvelli, Gibdock chief executive, says: “We investigated the harbour bottom in the area of the main wharf to be able to understand the suitability of the ground for landing a jack-up rig.

“The conclusion was that the area is perfectly suitable for receiving jackup spud cans and was soft enough that they would not be damaged, but hard enough that the weight would be supported and the structure safely moored.”

In investigating the seabed, Gibdock performed a high-power deep penetrating sonar survey and undertook a number of core samples. The combined results were integrated to develop a three-dimensional profile of the ground layers and their individual characteristics.  The conclusion was confirmed in a review carried out by a leading jack-up rig owner and a specialist rig repair contractor with extensive experience in this area.

Mr Beards says: “The results have demonstrated without doubt that our facilities are suitable for accepting jack-up rigs,” says Mr Beards. “The investment we have made in this survey will reassure rig owners that we can accommodate large jack-up rig projects here in Gibdock and that they can bring their rigs to Gibraltar with full confidence that there are no technical constraints.”

Armed with this technical appraisal and the showcase provided by the Etesco Millennium contract, Gibdock is confident it is on the verge of an important breakthrough in this sector. “The quality of our staff and our facilities make us extremely well suited to this kind of work,” says Mr Corvelli. “There is simply no better location to handle rig repair repairs and, with demand for rigs in West Africa, the Mediterranean and Black Sea getting stronger, we believe we are well placed to secure more rig business in the coming year.”

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