REMEMBERING THE CALABAR QUEEN DRILLING BARGE

Very few from the offshore drilling world, can remember the Calabar Queen. The Calabar Queen was not the most outstanding drilling vessel of that time, but a simple medium capacity, self-erecting tender assisted drilling tender fitted with an innovative heave-compensated loading deck. The barge was built by the famous Levingston shipyard in Orange, Texas, and registered in the shipyard books as hull No 984. The barge was delivered to Drilling Services Inc. on December 6,1969, and named after Calabar, a coastal city of the Cross River State, in southeastern Nigeria. The unit operated by Santa Fe, worked for Mobil offshore Nigeria, performing drilling and workover operations until the mid-1980’s. Being cold stacked for a while in the port of Dakar, Senegal, the vessel was bought by a French start-up drilling contractor. After long months of refurbishment in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, the vessel was renamed M’Bamou, after a Congolese river, and towed to the Tchibouela field operated for Elf Congo, for development drilling. Tchibouela became Elf’s most prolific field in the Republic of Congo. The end of the Calabar Queen remains wrapped in the West African haze. The unit was demobilized and cold stacked in Pointe Noire on the coast of the Republic of Congo. Rumours said that the tender barge was towed to the Atlantic Ocean deep waters and sunk. (Calabar Queen tender drilling barge – Image: Levingston Photography)