Feb 6 U.S. regulators have told offshore rig
contractors in the Gulf of Mexico to inspect certain blowout
preventers (BOPs) after a faulty bolt was deemed responsible for
a leak of drilling fluid late last month.
The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said
on Wednesday that General Electric Co issued a safety
notice to customers on Jan. 29 regarding bolts used in its H-4
connector, which connects the BOP to the wellhead.
"Less than a third of the rigs operating in the Gulf were
affected by GE's safety notice," the BSEE said. "The inspections
and verifications are being done on a rolling basis."
Angie Sedita, an analyst at UBS, said BOPs made by National
Oilwell Varco Inc would also be affected, although
Cameron International Corp BOPs would not. She
calculated a total of 20 GE and 12 NOV BOPs in the Gulf, and
expected that another 32 rigs off the coast of Brazil would need
to be inspected.
"The downtime would likely be at the expense of the contract
drilling company, but there would still be a discussion between
the driller and customer," Sedita said in a research note.
Assuming five days downtime for each rig, she estimated an
impact of up to 10 percent of first-quarter profits for the
major rig operators Transocean Ltd, Ensco Plc,
Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc and Noble Corp.
But a spokesman for Noble Corp said the impact on rigs would
vary across its fleet. Some BOPs may be easily cleared because
they do not even have the bolts in question, some replacements
may take place as part of regular maintenance, while other rigs
could end up having to halt work, he said.
A Transocean official confirmed there was a plan to replace
the bolts as necessary, but added: "At this time, we do not
expect this issue to have a significant impact on our business."