Deepwater Champion Debuts in Turkey


Transocean’s ultra-deepwater drillship Deepwater Champion transited the Bosphorus Strait in late March, marking a highly watched phase of deepwater petroleum exploration in the Black Sea for ExxonMobil and TPAO, the Turkish national petroleum company.

“We are hopeful about the studies that will be done in the Black Sea,” said Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz at a ceremony hosted by ExxonMobil and TPAO as the Champion passed through the Bosphorus in Istanbul.

Also on hand for the event were ExxonMobil International Ltd. Exploration Director Russ Bellis and Transocean’s David Tonnel, Sr. VP, Europe and Africa Unit; Mark Bessell, Managing Director, Mediterranean Division; Tom Atkins, Turkey Branch Manager; and Sam Beverland, Rig Manager, Asset.

“The Deepwater Champion team has done a remarkable job so far, from overseeing the construction and launching the rig from the shipyard in South Korea to safely sailing to Cape Town and now through the Bosphorus and into the Black Sea,” said David Tonnel. “We are looking forward to a successful start up of drilling operations in the coming weeks, supporting our customer all the way.”

The March 25 ceremony was covered by almost 55 members of the Turkish news media, who heard dignitaries’ speeches and watched a specially-produced, Turkish language Transocean video about the rig – “Deepwater Champion Pioneering Offshore Drilling.” A two-minute segment of the video also aired on a major Turkish TV station, giving local viewers an inside look at the most advanced ultra-deepwater drilling technology in the world today.

“Every aspect of safety and environmental protection has been factored into the design, construction and operation of the Deepwater Champion,” said Mark Bessell. “It is quite an impressive drillship.”

Tom Atkins, who is based in Ankara, led the startup of what is anticipated will be a long-term operational presence in Turkey.

“We are not new to Turkey as the Sedco 700 semisubmersible rig and the GSF Explorer drillship have worked in the Black Sea, “ Atkins said. “But this is the first time we have launched a newbuild drillship here. I wish the greatest success to our customer, which would be quite remarkable for everyone and this great country.”

Transocean and ExxonMobil teamed up to produce the informative video, “Deepwater Champion Pioneering Offshore Drilling,” which you can watch at




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