LOUIS J. GOULET THE FORGOTTEN DRILLSHIP OF LAKE ERIE

January 05, 2020

The Louis J. Goulet drillship began life as a bulk carrier carrying coal, grain, iron ore and pulpwood through the old St. Lawrence Canals in eastern Canada.
The ship was built by Davie Shipbuilding at Lauzon, QC and had been commissioned on July 20, 1957. The 78.94 metre long bulk carrier joined the Hall Corporation of Canada as Coniscliffe Hall.
Several company running mates were lengthened when the new waterway opened but Coniscliffe Hall was not among them. It continued in service until tying up at Kingston on Sept. 28, 1971. The ship remained idle there until clearing under its own power on Oct. 15, 1973. The destination was Port Colborne at the southern end of the Welland Canal, in the Niagara Region of Southern Ontario.
In 1913, 82 years ago, the first well was drilled in Lake Erie. The well was located 320 feet offshore in Romney Township in Kent County in Southern Ontario, Canada. Technology had changed since 1913 from the wooden drilling towers installed at some 300 ft. from shore and shallow water jackups were brought to the lake.
Coniscliffe Hall was refitted and, on May 12, 1975, was renamed Telesis by Underwater Gas Developers. The small drillship became the replacement for the Nordrill jackup and began drilling on the lake. Due to its ability to drill in water depths of up to 225 ft, the vessel had an advantage over the jackups of that time. The vessel worked the summer months on Lake Erie and, when not in use, the blue-hulled barge was usually moored in Port Colborne
The name of the drillship was changed to Louis J. Goulet in 1998 and became part of Pembina Exploration Ltd. It spent its idle time at Port Maitland on the North shore of Lake Erie, but was sold to Bahamas Oil in 2000. Louis J. Goulet departed Port Colborne, under tow, on Oct. 5, 2001 and went south for exploratory well drilling off Walker’s Cay, the northernmost island in the Bahamas.
Listed as Liberty Hunter later in the year, this name may not have been painted on the hull before the ship broke loose during hurricane Wilma in October 2005 after only limited service and landed on a reef as a total loss.
From there, the elements took over and the aging hull gradually succumbed to the ravages of rust and wear near South Man-O-War channel. The superstructure was later cut down to the waterline, and all that remains of the former lakes trader rests in shallow water at the site.
(Source: The Niagara Falls Review/AAPG/ Lake Erie Natural Gas Resource Development)