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    Torch Offshore provides update on Midnight Express conversion

    News // April 16, 2004
    Torch Offshore in the US has announced that the conversion of the Midnight Express is in its final stages. The company has spent US$90.0 million to date of the total of approximately US$109.0 million to be spent on the conversion project.

    The Midnight Express, a 520ft DP-2 deepwater capable pipelay vessel, is being converted at Davie Maritime, in Quebec, Canada, and is now more than 90 per cent complete and expected to leave the shipyard on May 21st, 2004.

    The patented pipelay system that is being constructed by Huisman-Itrec and the 500 tonne crane constructed by Hydralift AmClyde, are complete and ready for installation.

    On leaving the shipyard, the company's patented pipelay system and crane will be installed and the vessel will then undergo final sea trials. The company expects the vessel will enter the active fleet in the latter part of the third quarter of 2004.

    Torch said the response to the Midnight Express has been "very positive" and several customers have shown strong interest in utilising the vessel.

    The company is currently pricing various jobs to lay pipe in the Gulf of Mexico in the fourth quarter of 2004 and internationally in 2005 with the vessel.

    The US$109.0 million cost to complete the conversion of the Midnight Express is approximately 20 per cent higher than the earlier cost estimate of US$90.0 million.

    Approximately US$5.0 million of this cost overrun relates to the devaluation of the US dollar against the Euro. Of the remaining US$14.0 million, US$11.6 million resulted from increases at the Davie Maritime and the balance consisted of additions and upgrades of equipment, increased supervision and management costs due to the five-month extension to the conversion project and increases in equipment installation costs.

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