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August 30, 2005

Katrina sets offshore rigs adrift

Hurricane Katrina has taken its toll on offshore industry assets.

A key Alabama bridge, the Cochrane-Africatown USA Bridge, remained closed after being struck by the the PSS Chemul, a 13,000-ton semi-submersible accommodation/maintenance vessel owned by PEMEX.

It had been drydocked on the a heavy lift barge for repair and refurbishment by Bender Shipbuilding and Repair Co. when it broke free Monday about 11 a.m.

Media reports quote state port officials said the vessel collided with a dock, possibly several times, and struck a barge loader near the dock.

The top of the Chemul reportedly struck a side of the bridge and vessel pivoted into the bridge, becoming lodged.

Meantime, in the Gulf of Mexico, Shell said yesterday that its Mars platform had sustained topides damage and that two offshore drilling rigs under charter to Shell (Noble's Jim Thompson and Transocean's Deepwater Nautilus) were adrift.

Crews from Noble and Transocean were scheduled to fly out today (Tuesday) to reestablish operating systems on the two drifting drilling rigs. Anchor vessels and tugboats have been deployed to the two drifting rigs to remove loose anchor lines and hook up the rigs to towing bridles. Plans were to bring the rigs to shallow water and/or shipyards for repairs.

In a statement yesterday, Transocean Inc. confirmed that Deepwater Nautilus, a moored semisubmersible had drifted off location, but said all personnel had previously been safely evacuated and the well secured before the approach of the storm. The U.S. Coast Guard has been notified of the situation.

Three other Transocean moored vessels were safely evacuated and had remained on location in the aftermath of the storm. Transocean said its six dynamically positioned vessels all successfully moved out of the main track of the storm prior to its arrival.

ENSCO International Incorporated confirmed reports that the towline parted on its deepwater semisubmersible rig, ENSCO 7500, while the rig was under tow away from the path of Hurricane Katrina early Sunday morning. Due to deteriorating weather conditions, the towline could not be reconnected and the rig was evacuated prior to suspension of helicopter service in advance of the storm.

All personnel on board were safely transported to shore.

ENSCO 7500 had been engaged in drilling activity in Green Canyon 652 and secured the well prior to initiation of hurricane response procedures.

ENSCO 7500 has been located approximately 120 miles south of the Louisiana coast and initial reports did not disclose any apparent rig damage.

The rig was accompanied by the service vessel Warhorse, and preparations were being made to re-man the unit.

http://www.uscgstormwatch.com

You can track the storm at http://www.weather.com.

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