Rig’s arrival hailed as �3m boost

THE arrival of a giant jack-up gas rig at Great Yarmouth’s outer harbour on Tuesday night has been hailed as a massive boost for the port and local economy.

Spectators looked on as tugs carefully brought the Noble Julie Robertson into the �80m port for a refurbishment likely to take several weeks.

EastPort UK’s chief executive Eddie Freeman hailed the significance of Geneva-based Noble Corporation, one of the world’s largest offshore drilling contractors, choosing Yarmouth for the work.

“Without the outer harbour, this impressive jack-up rig would have bypassed Yarmouth and probably even the UK, heading instead for Europe,” he said.

“Noble’s decision to use Yarmouth has not only reinforced the value of the outer harbour but also Yarmouth’s position as England’s number one offshore energy support port.

“I understand Noble has awarded significant contracts for the refurbishment of the rig to local companies and the breadth and depth of skills and experience in the area was a significant factor in coming to Yarmouth.”

Mr Freeman said the facilities and flexibility offered by the outer harbour meant that recommissioning, decommissioning and renewable energy activities in the southern North Sea could all be supported.

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Originally called Ocean Scotia, Noble Corporation bought the rig in 1999 and renamed it. It has been deployed for the past 10 years in the southern North Sea carrying out exploration work and servicing existing wells for a number of operators. The rig has a crew of between 60 and 98 personnel.

Local companies contracted for the refurbishment include those involved in fabrication, drilling, tubular maintenance, lifeboat overhaul and repair, non-destructive testing, freight forwarding and storage.

It is understood the contracts are worth more than �3m to the local economy.

“That does not include the associated business generated with hotels, taxis and other services,” said Mr Freeman.

The latest contract comes only weeks after EastPort announced it had clinched a deal with Danish engineering giant MT Hojgaard for the outer harbour to be used as a base for the construction of the Lincs offshore windfarm.

Starting in the spring, components will be brought in and out of the harbour on giant jack-up barges.