A US firm warned Thursday of a possible delay in the drilling of an oil well off Ghana after a rig was partially evacuated, handing a setback to the West African nation’s newly minted petroleum industry.
US-based Kosmos said the planned drilling of the Cedrela-1 well may be delayed following an incident that saw the Transocean-owned Marianas rig take on water, leading to the reported evacuation of more than 100 workers.
Transocean was also the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico off the United States, where an explosion led to last year’s devastating oil spill.
“Kosmos has delivered a force majeure notice to the government of Ghana and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation due to the delay in the rig’s scheduled arrival at the Cedrela-1 well location,” it said.
Force majeure is employed when a company may not be able to meet its contractual obligations due to circumstances beyond its control.
Ghana only began large-scale oil production in December from a different field known as Jubilee — one of the largest recent discoveries in West Africa.
Lately it has been producing around 70,000 barrels per day and had expected to hit 120,000 bpd this month.
In the Marianas incident, the semi-submersible drilling rig encountered an anchor-handling problem on its way to the West Cape Three Points oil block, where Cedrela-1 is located.
The incident occurred while preparations were being made to move the rig from another operator’s block to the Cedrela-1 well location, it said.
The rig was to have reached Kosmos’s Cedrela-1 well around July 10, but was “rendered temporarily inoperable following a reported anchor-handling incident,” Kosmos said in a statement.
Kosmos said it has launched a search for a substitute drilling rig.
Kosmos operates the West Cape Three Points Block in which it holds a 30.875% interest.
Other shareholders are US firms Anadarko with 30.875 percent; Anglo-Irish firm Tullow Oil plc with 22.896 percent; and Ghana’s state firm, which carries a 10 percent interest.