Buccaneer Behind On Payments, Says City Manager

The jack-up rig ‘Endeavour’ has been docked in Homer since it’s arrival four months ago (Bill Smith photo)

Buccaneer Energy has experienced another setback in its efforts to deploy the Endeavor jack-up rig, which has been docked at the Homer Harbor about four months longer than originally planned. The company was forced to replace the operator of the rig after local workers complained about not being paid.

Buccaneer Energy fired the company charged with operating the Endeavour jack-up rig Friday after learning that local subcontractors were not being paid for work on the rig.

Jay Morakis of JMR Worldwide, Buccaneer’s public relations office, told Brian Smith of the Peninsula Clarion Friday that company officials decided to sever ties with Archer Drilling Company Thursday. Calls and emails placed to Archer Drilling from the Clarion seeking comment were not immediately returned.

Morakis said Buccaneer had entered into a letter of intent Friday with Spartan Offshore Drilling – the company that currently operates the Spartan 151 jack-up rig in Cook Inlet – to take over operating the Endeavour.

Morakis said Buccaneer considers itself “paid in full” to Archer “with the exception of some disputed amounts for work that has been done.” He could not provide details on that debt. Morakis says Buccaneer will work to make sure Homer-based contractors and others who worked on the rig who are owed money by Archer are paid for their services.

Homer Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins said he watched an exodus of workers loading up and leaving the rig last week. He estimated about 50 construction workers, pipefitters, welders and other contractors were employed on the rig.

Homer City Manager Walt Wrede said the announcement got the city’s attention and prompted a Friday morning teleconference with Buccaneer officials. Wrede said he came away from the conference feeling it was just a “short term shake-up.”

Wrede told KBBI Monday that Buccaneer is also about six weeks behind in its payments to the City of Homer.

“We had a long discussion about that on Friday and … they assured us … that the city would be paid and they would be current as soon as they possibly (can),” said Wrede.

Wrede wouldn’t put a dollar amount on what Buccaneer owes the City of Homer – saying he did not wish to embarrass the company – but based on current fees for use of the Deepwater Dock, that amount is at least $75,000

Despite everything, Wrede says the city is glad to have Buccaneer at the dock and is grateful for the economic boost the company has provided. He says he is hopeful that the Homer-based workers would soon be able to return to the Endeavour rig.

“I think the same contractors will be able to come back on the job, at least that’s what we’re hoping,” he said.

Wrede says Buccaneer officials told him the Endeavour would be departing Homer for the Cosmopolitan Field in “a couple of weeks,” although there is still work that needs to be performed on the rig and a necessary Coast Guard inspection has yet to take place.

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Aaron Selbig is a reporter at KBBI in Homer.