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The Island Innovator drilling rig courtesy Island Offshore

Island Innovator courtesy Island Offshore

Rig Safety Dispute Leads to Contract Termination Off Equatorial Guinea

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 5929
February 13, 2024

Trident Energy and its partners Panoro Energy and Kosmos Energy have terminated the contract for the Island Innovator semi-submersible drilling rig off the coast of Equatorial Guinea due to alleged safety concerns that the rig owner disputes.

The joint venture commenced a drilling campaign using the Island Innovator on Block G offshore Equatorial Guinea in January looking to boost production. The rig was also set to move to Block S to drill the Akeng Deep ILX exploration well.

However, Panoro issued a statement on Feb. 9 announcing the termination the current rig contract, alleging that it is “not operationally in a condition to safely drill the wells.”

According to Equatorial Guinea’s Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons, the Island Innovator’s blowout preventer showed “serious problems” and failed to “respond to control commands to open or close valves as needed,” creating a potential risk for a severe accident and an “uncontrolled release of crude or natural gas to the surface.”

“The joint venture will not compromise on safety, which is of paramount importance, and has acted decisively and responsibly in taking this course of action,” said John Hamilton, CEO of Panoro.

The Island innovator is a 6th generation rig that has been in operation since 2013. It is equipped with a NOV BOP handling system and a five ram BOP stack from Cameron.

In response, Island Drilling CEO, Roger Simmenes, defended the rig’s safety record, insisting that there have been no critical safety incidents and that the blowout preventer has been tested and declared safe for operations by the original equipment manufacturer’s representative. He added that Island Drilling is considering legal action to contest the contract termination.

“To be clear, we do not compromise with safety!” said Simmenes.

The joint venture is currently evaluating alternative options to safely resume and complete the drilling campaign as soon as possible, potentially in Q2, depending on the availability of suitable rigs and the terms of alternative options.

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