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Super Drillship Begins Service in Gulf

Super Drillship Begins Service in Gulf

Conoco and R&ampB Falcon Corp.'s Deepwater Pathfinder ultra-deep-water drillship began a five-year work program in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship, which is the first new vessel capable of drilling in 10,000 feet of water, will fulfill a $400 million drilling program for Conoco. The ship is expected to drill up to four wells in its first year of operation, with the first exploratory well being drilled at Garden Banks Block 783. Conoco has interests in 295 deep-water leases.

The technological highlight of the ship is its dynamic positioning system wherein a specialized combination of seabed and satellite systems send signals to onboard computers. Six high-powered thrusters will counter the force of currents, wind and waves to keep the vessel exactly on target without an anchor, even in weather conditions as severe as a 10-year Gulf of Mexico storm. Deepwater Pathfinder is the only drillship worldwide incorporating triple-redundant power and operating functions, which qualify for the American Bureau of Shipping's DP3 classification - the shipping society's highest standard of safety, redundancy and reliability for dynamically positioned vessels.

Conoco and R&ampB Falcon are building a second deep-water drillship with the same specifications that is expected to be delivered in early 1999, about two months ahead of schedule. It will operate on Conoco's deep-water tracts in other parts of the world, such as the Atlantic Margin, Norway, New Zealand and Nigeria.

Joe Fisher, Houston

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