UPDATE 2-Cobalt declares force majeure on GoM rig

* Says force majeure on rig owned by Diamond Offshore

* Sees spending $15 mln due to force majeure

* Says suspension of drilling to delay its GoM ops

* Shares down as much as 8 pct
(Adds background, Stone Energy statement)

BANGALORE, June 1 (BestGrowthStock) – Oil and gas explorer Cobalt
International Energy Inc (CIE.N: ) declared force majeure on a
drill rig citing the U.S. government’s decision to suspend all
drilling operations in deepwater Gulf of Mexico following the
BP oil spill.

The company said it will incur expenditures of about $15
million due to force majeure. The Ocean Monarch rig, located at
Cobalt’s North Platte exploratory well, belongs to Diamond
Offshore Inc (DO.N: ).

Smaller peer Stone Energy Corp (SGY.N: ) also said the
government’s decision to extend ban on new drilling will delay
drilling of a second well in its Amberjack program.

Stone, however, said current production from the Amberjack
platform remained unchanged and backed its full-year total
production view of 205 million cubic feet equivalent per day
(mmcfed) to 225 mmcfed.

“Drilling plans for several conventional shelf wells and
two deep shelf wells do not appear to be impacted by the
moratorium,” the company said.

On Thursday, the U.S. government ordered a temporary halt
to drilling at 33 deepwater exploration rigs and extended the
ban on new drilling by six months as part of a broader response
to the oil spill. [ID:nLDE64R00P]

Oil from BP’s out-of-control spill could threaten the
Mississippi and Alabama coasts this week, as public anger
surged over the country’s worst environmental disaster.

U.S. government and BP (BP.L: ) officials are warning that
the blown-out deepwater well feeding the catastrophic spill may
not be shut off until August. [ID:nN31222759]

Cobalt International Energy said the decision by the
government will delay its Gulf of Mexico (GoM) operations by
about six months.

“Other than this initial six month delay, Cobalt reaffirms
its intentions to execute all aspects of its entire GoM
exploration and appraisal program as previously announced,” the
company said in a statement.

The company also re-affirmed its plans to start drilling
operations in offshore Angola by the fourth quarter 2010 or
first quarter 2011.

Cobalt, which went public in December last year, expects to
start commercial production from its Gulf of Mexico properties
between 2012 and 2014 and from its African properties between
2014 and 2016. [ID:nN1630304]

Shares of the company were down 7 percent at $6.50, while
those of Stone Energy were down 2 percent at $13.16 Tuesday
morning on the New York Stock Exchange.

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(Reporting by Arup Roychoudhury in Bangalore; Editing by Don

UPDATE 2-Cobalt declares force majeure on GoM rig