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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