Rig: Noble Discoverer (Retired)

Name Noble Discoverer (Retired)
Owner Noble Drilling
Manager Noble Drilling
Rig Type Drillship
Sub Type Midwater Floater
Jackup Type --
Max Water Depth (ft) 1000
Max Drill Depth (ft) 20000
Dimensions (ft) 514 x 85 x 38
Leg Length (ft) --
Competitive Yes

Current Location

Country --
Region --

Drilling Equipment

Drawworks Type Continental Emsco E-2100
Drawworks HP 1600
Mud Pumps Type Continental Emsco FA-1600 Triplex; FB-1600 Tripelx
Top Drive National Oilwell Varco TDS-3S
Hookload Capacity (lbs) 1000000

Rig Construction Details

Rig Design Sonat Offshore
Rig Model Discoverer Class
Year Built 1976
Country of Build Japan
Yard Name Imari Shipyard & Works
Group Yard Name Namura Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.

Rig Contract Details

Operating Status Retired


3 Feb 2016

Retirement of Noble Discoverer

In its fourth quarter results announcement, Noble Corporation announced its decision to retire the drillship Noble Discoverer and the jackup Noble Charles Copeland, thereby reducing its fleet count to 30 units.

15 Dec 2015

Contract Cancellation

In accordance with the terms of the contract, Shell has terminated the rig's contract for convenience and will pay Noble for the remaining term at approximately 90 percent of the operating dayrate adjusted for certain other items. The rig is being mobilized to Singapore where it is expected to be stacked.

12 May 2015

BOEM approves Shell's arctic exploration plan

After a comprehensive review and consideration of comments received from the public, stakeholders, and Federal and state partner agencies and tribes, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) today conditionally approved Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc.’s revised multi-year Exploration Plan (“EP”) for the Chukchi Sea. Among the conditions of approval is the requirement that Shell obtain all necessary permits from other state and federal agencies, including permits to drill from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) and appropriate authorizations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Another condition of approval prevents Shell from commencing drilling operations until all Biological Opinions under the Endangered Species Act have been issued and requires all operations under the plan comply with the terms and conditions included in those Biological Opinions. The EP describes all exploration activities planned by the operator, including the timing of these activities, information concerning drilling vessels, the location of each planned well, and actions to be taken to meet important safety and environmental standards and to protect workers, resources, wildlife and access to subsistence use areas. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the review of the EP included the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and a subsequent Finding of No Significant Impact. Shell’s revised EP proposes the drilling of up to six wells within the Burger Prospect, located in approximately 140 feet of water about 70 miles northwest of the village of Wainwright. Shell will conduct its operations using the Noble Discoverer and Transocean Polar Pioneer units, with each rig providing relief-well capability for the other. The two drilling units and their supporting vessels will depart the Chukchi Sea at the conclusion of each exploration drilling season.

8 Dec 2014

Noble settles with DOJ

Noble Corporation (Noble) today announced that it has reached a final settlement with the Department of Justice (DOJ), concluding a two-year investigation into the Company's operations and systems aboard the drillship Noble Discoverer. The settlement agreement also covers certain record keeping issues related to the Kulluk drilling rig, which was previously crewed by Noble personnel. Under the terms of the agreement, Noble will pay USD8.2 million in fines and USD4 million toward community service as designated by the DOJ. Noble stated that it has taken responsibility for these actions and assisted in the investigation and in implementing changes in its vessel and management process. These charges principally relate to deficiencies and maintenance issues raised by the U.S. Coast Guard during an inspection of the Noble Discoverer following a successful drilling season in offshore Alaska during 2012. Issues noted related to the Kulluk focused on record keeping. Concerns related to the Noble Discoverer have been addressed during the renovation and modernization of the rig which occurred as part of an extensive shipyard program conducted in Korea and Singapore. In addition to these improvements and upgrades to the vessel, Noble noted that it had strengthened its training programs to ensure that its operations more aptly reflect the Company's deep commitment to safety, compliance and environmental protection.

18 Dec 2013

Shell extends contract for 'Noble Discoverer' drillship

Noble Corporation (Noble) has confirmed an extension of Shell’s existing contract for the ‘Noble Discoverer’ drillship. The new contract extends the existing contract for an additional thirty four months and means the unit will be contracted to Shell until the end of 2016, with an increase in dayrate to US$363,000 from the previous US$244,000 that Shell was paying. The ‘Noble Discoverer’ is currently docked in a South Korean shipyard where it is undergoing repair and modification work before it heads back to the Chuckhi Sea in USA (Alaska) for drilling operations in 2014. Noble also confirmed new jackup contracts for the ‘Noble Tommy Craighead’ in Equatorial Guinea and ‘Noble Byron Welliver’ in the Netherlands.

27 Feb 2013

Shell announces pause in Alaska drilling program

Royal Dutch Shell plc (“Shell”) today announced it will pause its exploration drilling activity for 2013 in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas to prepare equipment and plans for a resumption of activity at a later stage. “We’ve made progress in Alaska, but this is a long-term program that we are pursuing in a safe and measured way,” said Shell Oil Company President, Marvin Odum. “Our decision to pause in 2013 will give us time to ensure the readiness of all our equipment and people following the drilling season in 2012.” Alaska holds important energy resources. At the same time, securing access to those resources requires special expertise, technology and an in depth understanding of the environmental and societal sensitivities unique to the region. Shell is one of the leaders in an industry move into offshore Arctic exploration. The company continues to use its extensive experience in Arctic and sub-Arctic environments to prepare for safe activities in Alaska. Alaska remains an area with high potential for Shell over the long term, and the company is committed to drill there again in the future. If exploration proves successful, resources there would take years to develop. Shell completed top-hole drilling on two wells in 2012 in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, marking the industry’s return to offshore drilling in the Alaskan Arctic after more than a decade. This drilling was completed safely, with no serious injuries or environmental impact. After the drilling season ended, however, one of Shell’s drilling rigs, the Kulluk, was damaged in a maritime incident related to strong weather conditions. The Kulluk and the second drilling rig, the Noble Discoverer, will be towed to locations in Asia for maintenance and repairs. “Shell remains committed to building an Arctic exploration program that provides confidence to stakeholders and regulators, and meets the high standards the company applies to its operations around the world,” said Odum. “We continue to believe that a measured and responsible pace, especially in the exploration phase, fits best in this remote area.”

10 Sep 2012

Drillship Discoverer Moves Off Burger Well

As a precautionary measure and in accordance with our approved Chukchi Sea Ice Management Plan, Shell has made the decision to temporarily move off the Burger-A well to avoid potentially encroaching sea ice. Once the ice moves on, the Noble Discoverer will re-connect to anchors and continue drilling. Shell uses a combination of satellite images, radar and on-site reconnaissance to monitor ice movement.

9 Sep 2012

Shell begins drilling in the Chukchi Sea

Shell is pleased to announce today, September 9 2012, that crews aboard the Noble Discoverer began drilling at Shell’s “Burger” prospect in the Chukchi Sea. It’s the first time a drill bit has touched the sea floor in the U.S. Chukchi Sea in more than two decades. Today marks the culmination of Shell’s six-year effort to explore for potentially significant oil and gas reserves, which are believed to lie under Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf. In the days to come, drilling will continue in the Chukchi Sea, and we will prepare for drilling to commence in the Beaufort Sea. We look forward to continued drilling progress throughout the next several weeks and to adding another chapter to Alaska’s esteemed oil and gas history. We’re proud to be offshore Alaska, and we’re extremely proud of the preparation we’ve put in place to do it right.

30 Aug 2012

Approval to Begin Initial Drilling Offshore

The Department of Interior has approved preparatory operations in non-oil-bearing zones in the Chukchi Sea. The Administration’s decision to approve initial drilling into non-oil-bearing zones in the Chukchi Sea reflects the national importance of exploring the energy resource offshore Alaska. Once the Noble Discoverer drill ship reaches its drill location, it will connect with anchors that have been pre-staged in the Chukchi Sea and work will commence. Shell has dedicated more than six years to gain the confidence and trust of regulators and to earn to the right to begin this historic operation. We appreciate the effort the Department of Interior has made to understand, scrutinize, and support this project of national significance. In the weeks ahead we look forward to operating safely and responsibly, putting Americans to work and finding out even more about the oil and gas reserves that are believed to lie under Alaska’s Chukchi Sea.

27 Aug 2012

Drillship Discoverer Departs Dutch Harbor

On August 25, 2012, the drillship Noble Discoverer departed Dutch Harbor for the waters of the Chukchi Sea. This activity marks another positive step forward in delivering on Shells 2012 Chukchi Exploration Plan. The Discoverer will steam north to Shell’s Burger prospect, where mooring anchors have already been placed.

19 Jul 2012

Divers Confirm Noble Discoverer Did Not Run Aground

Divers have confirmed the Noble Discoverer did not run aground after slipping anchor in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Still, our goal remains flawless operations and this is an incident Shell and Noble Drilling take very seriously. Even a “near miss” is unacceptable. While an internal investigation will determine why the Discoverer slipped anchor, we are pleased with the speed and effectiveness of the mitigation measures we had in place.

15 Jul 2012

Drillship Drifts While Anchored Near Dutch Harbor

On July 14, 2012, while anchored off the coast of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, the Noble Discoverer drill ship drifted toward land. Shell quickly engaged one of its support vessels, the Lauren Foss, which safely towed the Discoverer back to its previous location. A ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) inspection of the Discoverer found no indication that the ship was damaged or ran aground. As a precaution, a dive team will conduct another inspection. The Noble Discoverer is currently anchored off the coast of Dutch Harbor with the Lauren Foss on standby and towlines connected. The ship’s anchor, which is used to secure the drill ship just off the coast, is very different from the eight-anchor [PES] spread mooring system used during drilling operations. Our goal remains flawless operations. Shell and Noble Drilling take all incidents very seriously. Even a “near miss” is unacceptable. While an internal investigation will determine why the Discoverer slipped anchor, we are pleased with the speed and effectiveness of the mitigation measures we had in place. Any lessons from this incident will be applied to future operations, here and elsewhere.

27 Jun 2012

Shell Drill Rigs Depart for Alaska Waters

On Wednesday, June 27, the Noble Discoverer and the Kulluk conical drilling unit departed Seattle, Washington to make the journey to Dutch Harbor, Alaska. A portion of the associated drilling fleet departed at approximately the same time. “Shell is pleased to announce its two Alaska-bound drilling rigs, the Kulluk and the Noble Discoverer, along with associated support vessels, have departed Seattle, Washington and are now en route to Dutch Harbor, Alaska. "Upon arrival in Dutch Harbor, the fleet will await the opportunity to make entry into the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Once open water allows, the rigs will sail to their respective theaters and commence exploratory drilling,” said Pete Slaiby, VP Alaska. The journey north marks the beginning of another historic offshore exploration program in Alaska. We look forward to adding to our long, successful history in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas; providing jobs and verifying what could prove to be an extremely valuable natural resource base for Alaska and the Nation.

9 Dec 2011

Noble Discoverer recalled to Alaska

The drillship Noble Discoverer will be recalled to Alaska early in the new year to fulfill contract obligations and is now unlikely to be able to complete drilling the Ruru exploration well for Shell Todd Oil Services (STOS). Should the Ruru well not be completed, it will be safely plugged and abandoned in line with strict Shell standards and New Zealand regulations. The ship owner Noble Drilling Corporation is finalizing plans to safely recover the Riser and the LMRP which became detached during bad weather earlier in the year. The early recall is as a result of the long lead-times associated with working in the Arctic and Shell’s commitment to adding and testing additional control systems onboard the Discoverer. The Discoverer has always been prioritized for Alaska and the additional time in a U.S. shipyard will allow time to make any Arctic-specific modifications to the drilling vessel in advance of 2012 drilling. Last year, STOS took advantage of the opportunity to book the vessel for the Ruru venture when activities in Alaska were put on hold. In February of 2011 the Discoverer began drilling the Ruru well which is 40 kilometres off the South Taranaki coast. The work was suspended in April when, as a precautionary measure and in accordance with best practice, the crew secured the well and safely disconnected the Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) to prepare for a severe storm. In the process some of the anchor lines failed. The vessel moved into deeper waters to ride out the storm and later docked at Port Taranaki to shelter for the winter period. Repair work was carried out locally, contributing millions of dollars to the Taranaki community. A Maritime NZ investigation concluded the Discoverer was operated appropriately in response to the incident and there were no ongoing safety issues with the vessel. In September the vessel headed to dry dock in Brisbane for its five-yearly class certification and arrived back at Port Taranaki at the end of last month.

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