Saipem may move from CIMC Raffles

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 

Senior Saipem executives held talks with CIMC Raffles in late July, trying to convince the 
Chinese yard to transfer the 
remaining fabrication job to 

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.


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