September 15, 2010 / 6:28 AM / in 7 years

Transocean rig leaving Gulf of Mexico for Egypt

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Another Transocean Ltd rig is leaving the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, still under contract with Statoil -- the fourth rig departure resulting from a moratorium on U.S. deepwater drilling.

The world’s largest offshore drilling contractor said on Tuesday the Discoverer Americas would leave next week, becoming its second rig to depart the region since the disaster in April that destroyed the company’s Deepwater Horizon.

An explosion on that rig, under contract with BP Plc, led to an environmental disaster and a U.S. moratorium on deepwater drilling, which the Interior Department said on Tuesday was unlikely to last beyond November 30.

Analysts have said they do not expect many more rigs to depart the region, so long as the moratorium expires on time.

Norway’s Statoil will pay $486,000 a day for the Discoverer Americas in Egypt, or $4,000 more than before, when the new five-month contract starts in October. The rig is then due back in the Gulf of Mexico next March at the same rate, under a contract running until November 2013.

In July, Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc agreed with Devon Energy Corp to move a Gulf of Mexico rig to Egypt with a new operator, followed by Murphy Oil Corp moving a Diamond rig to the Republic of Congo until it can meet the Gulf of Mexico regulatory requirements and return.

Transocean said earlier this month that its Marianas rig was heading out of the Gulf of Mexico with Italy’s Eni, bound for West Africa.

Before the moves, there were 30 deepwater rigs contracted for the Gulf of Mexico this year, including others owned by Noble Corp, Ensco Plc and Seadrill.

Transocean also said in its fleet report on Tuesday that it pulled two of its shallow-water rigs off the market due to lack of demand, leaving only 35 of its 65 jackups under contract.

The GSF Labrador, in the UK North Sea, had earned $90,000 a day before its contract ran out in July, while the Roger W. Mowell had a dayrate of $150,000 in Malaysia up until August.

Shares of Transocean, which have lost more than a third of their value since the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion, fell 20 cents to $58.15 in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

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