Yesterday, just months after arriving on location, the newly built Ocean Rig Drillship Poseidon, was attacked by pirates while drilling off the coast of Tanzania.
In a statement earlier today Tanzania’s Registrar of Ships said “The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) … has received reports of an attack on an exploration vessel known as the Ocean Rig Poseidon,”
“In the incident, seven pirates in a small boat attacked the ship with weapons. Security personnel on the ship with the help of the Tanzanian Navy returned fire and managed to subdue and arrest the pirates.” Tanzanian authorities also confirmed the location of the attack…. about 82 miles out from capital Dar es Salaam.
Tanzanian government officials estimate the country’s natural gas reserves at over 7.5 trillion cubic feet but oil companies have been reluctant to send rigs there partly because of the country’s close proximity to Somalia, a neighbor to the north.
In response to concerns, Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda took steps to protect Petrobras assets in the region. In a statement issued in April of this year he said, “Due to increased piracy attacks, we have been compelled to beef up security in our territory. The first step has been to provide escorts to vessels that request security assistance when they enter our territorial waters and the second is for the government to provide protection to vessels exploring for gas and oil in our ocean.”
The attack comes just days after Shell agreed to purchase a 50% interest in the wells being drilled by the Poseidon and share in both the estimated $11 million drilling costs and the $14 million on port development projects promised by Petrobras.
Upstream has reported that Petrobras is using the drillship under a 20-month charter at a dayrate of up to $632,000. The total contract value for Ocean Rig, including mobilization, is USD 353 million. The ship is a Saipem 10000 design launched from Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard on July 28th of this year. It is classed by the American Bureau of Shipping and registered in the Marshall Islands.
Yesterday’s attack is the second piracy incident for the country. In September of last year pirates attacked a drillship contracted to British Ophir Energy off the southern port town of Mtwara. One pirate was arrested in that incident.
A source close to the situation tells us “The attack was against the anchor handling vessel – not against the rig itself.”
gCaptain will post more details as they become available.