Conoco and R&ampB Falcon Corp.’s Deepwater Pathfinderultra-deep-water drillship began a five-year work program in theGulf of Mexico. The ship, which is the first new vessel capable ofdrilling in 10,000 feet of water, will fulfill a $400 milliondrilling program for Conoco. The ship is expected to drill up tofour wells in its first year of operation, with the firstexploratory well being drilled at Garden Banks Block 783. Conocohas interests in 295 deep-water leases.

The technological highlight of the ship is its dynamicpositioning system wherein a specialized combination of seabed andsatellite systems send signals to onboard computers. Sixhigh-powered thrusters will counter the force of currents, wind andwaves to keep the vessel exactly on target without an anchor, evenin weather conditions as severe as a 10-year Gulf of Mexico storm.Deepwater Pathfinder is the only drillship worldwide incorporatingtriple-redundant power and operating functions, which qualify forthe American Bureau of Shipping’s DP3 classification – the shippingsociety’s highest standard of safety, redundancy and reliabilityfor dynamically positioned vessels.

Conoco and R&ampB Falcon are building a second deep-waterdrillship with the same specifications that is expected to bedelivered in early 1999, about two months ahead of schedule. Itwill operate on Conoco’s deep-water tracts in other parts of theworld, such as the Atlantic Margin, Norway, New Zealand andNigeria.

Joe Fisher, Houston

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