June 24, 2008

Deep-Sea Miner Commissions Vessel for Papua New Guinea Prospecting

Text of report by Papua New Guinea newspaper The National website on 24 June

[Canadian] deep-sea miner Nautilus Minerals last Friday [20 June] entered into a 25m US dollar (67.48m kina) binding agreement with Norway's North Sea Shipping to provide the specialist mining support vessel (MSV) for Nautilus's Solwara-1 project in Papua New Guinea.

North Sea Shipping is a leading Norwegian ship owner and operator in offshore oil and gas industry. They will provide a 160m dynamically positioned specialist new-build ship, on a five-year charter basis with options to extend for another five years.

Stephen Rogers, Nautilus chief executive officer, in a statement said "the MSV award is a key milestone for the Solwara 1 project. Our exhaustive and highly competitive selection process has yielded an excellent MSV which could not be a better match to the specified requirements. The working relationship developed with North Sea Shipping through the negotiation process has created a solid foundation for the future. The MSV award keeps Nautilus on track for commencement of production in 2010, subject to timely permitting and approvals."

Nautilus said North Sea Shipping was selected from a short list after a competitive engineering evaluation.

The company said the building of the hull was already well advanced at one of Turkey's leading shipbuilders RMK Marine, based in Tuzla, south of Istanbul.

"On completion of hull fabrication in July next year, the vessel will be outfitted by Astilleros Barreras at its Vigo yard in northern Spain, with completion scheduled in June 2010," Nautilus said.

The 160m vessel is 30m wide, has a draft of 7m and displacement of 14,200 tonnes. It has some outstanding features, which make it ideal as a candidate for seafloor mining.

These include a 400 tonne heave compensated crane which is capable of working at 2,500m water depth and total installed power of 21 MW, which will allow it to satisfy both ship and mining equipment demands.

The vessel can accommodate 120 people, which is more than adequate for the marine and mining crew and has a deck area of 2,900 square metres, which will accommodate the mining equipment.

Originally published by The National website, Port Moresby, in English 24 Jun 08.

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