Italian contractor Saipem is seeking to move its partially built semi-submersible drilling rig Scarabeo 9 away from China’s Yantai CIMC Raffles Shipyard due to increasing delays.
Saipem — led by chief executive Pietro Franco Tali — hopes to complete the high-specification unit at another yard in Asia.
Sources list Singapore’s Sembawang Shipyard as the frontrunner for the award, though another Singapore yard and a South Korean rig builder are also understood to still be in the running.
Senior Saipem executives held talks with CIMC Raffles in late July, trying to convince the Chinese yard to transfer the remaining fabrication job to Sembawang.
This potential move has become more urgent as Saipem is said to be close to signing a charter agreement for the speculatively ordered Frigstad D90 design rig with an unnamed rig operator in Brazil.
It is understood that Saipem is not confident CIMC Raffles will be able to complete the newbuild anytime soon and is concerned that further delays will jeopardise its ability to meet the delivery deadline set by the client for the Brazilian charter.
The original schedule called for the sixth-generation rig to be delivered by the end of last year, but CIMC Raffles sources now say the earliest possible date for completion is the end of this year.
Industry sources said CIMC Raffles’ top priority now is to deliver the COSL Pioneer and Amazonia, two semisubs being built respectively for COSL Europe and Schahin, by the end of this year.
“There is no guarantee, but we will try to deliver Scarabeo 9 by the end of this year,” said a CIMC Raffles source.
Sources said CIMC Raffles is reluctant to transfer the rig to Sembawang or another yard for completion, suggesting that it is a costly exercise to make the shift. The yard in Yantai in China’s Shandong province is now swamped with building obligations on offshore units.
It is currently working on seven new semi-submersible rigs and five jack-ups simultaneously, using its flagship 20,000-tonne gantry crane Taisun to lift massive prefabricated decks and section onto the hulls.
Last December Taisun completed the mating of the Scarabeo 9, which is the first Frigstad D90 design unit ever to be built, having been developed by Frigstad Engineering.
The contract for the rig’s construction was signed in 2006, after Frigstad Discoverer Invest Ltd (FDIL), at that time an affiliate of Frigstad Offshore, had secured the financing to build the SS Frigstad Oslo, touted as the world’s most powerful ultra- deepwater rig.
Listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange in April 2007, FDIL was later that year acquired by Saipem, and the rig was renamed Scarabeo 9.
The dynamically positioned rig is capable of drilling in up to 12,000 of water and to well depths of up to 50,000 feet.