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Shell Arctic Drill Rig The Frontier Discoverer Overdue for Breakers Yard

“45 year old vessels were not built to the same standards as current vessels, and do not incorporate the same safety or environmental features. 45 year old equipment is not as reliable as current equipment. Most rigs of this age have long since gone to the breaker’s yard.”

COMMENT ON SHELL BLOG  ON THE REASSURANCE LETTER SENT BY SHELL OIL PRESIDENT MARVIN ODUM TO THE U.S. MINERALS MANAGEMENT SERVICE

BY “Outsider” on 26 May, 2010

Odum’s letter to Birnbaum fails to mention that the rig being used in Alaska (Frontier Discoverer) was built in 1965 as a log carrier, and was converted to a drillship in 1975. The Frontier Discoverer is one of the oldest offshore rigs still operating in the world.

In spite of being patched up over time, it is still a 45 year old vessel being operated long after the end of its design life.

BP were paying about $500,000 per day to use one of the most capable rigs in the world. Shell’s subsidiary, Frontier Drilling currently operates just four rigs, all of which have been in use since the mid-1970’s. The dayrates for these rigs are about one tenth of the cost of current rigs.

In spite of costing so little, Shell/Frontier’s only clients are Shell and Petronas. The reason for using a 45 year old rig is that the cost is far below that of a current vessel. 45 year old vessels were not built to the same standards as current vessels, and do not incorporate the same safety or environmental features. 45 year old equipment is not as reliable as current equipment. Most rigs of this age have long since gone to the breaker’s yard.

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