Photo: Maersk Invincible rig; Courtesy of Maersk Drilling

Aker BP all set to drill North Sea wildcat

Norwegian oil and gas company Aker BP has received a drilling permit from Norwegian authorities for a wildcat well located in the North Sea off Norway.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate confirmed on Wednesday that the well 2/8-19 will be drilled using the Maersk Drilling-owned Maersk Invincible rig.

The drilling programme for this well entails the drilling of an exploration well in production licence 1085, which was awarded in February 2021 and is valid until February 2027.

Aker BP is the operator of the licence with an ownership interest of 55 per cent and the other licensees are DNO Norge with 25 per cent and Petero with the remaining 20 per cent.

The drilling operations are planned to start this month, using the Maersk Invincible jack-up rig. The rig received an Acknowledgement of Compliance (AoC) from the PSA in May 2017. The rig was built at the DSME yard in Busan, South Korea in 2016.

Aker BP originally contracted this rig in November 2017 under a five-year agreement, when it entered into a joint jack-up alliance with Maersk Drilling and Halliburton to lower the cost per barrel and increase profitability for the partners.

In December 2021, Maersk Drilling and Aker BP agreed to renew the frame agreement for two jack-up rigs – Maersk Integrator and Maersk Invincible – for a five-year period, during which the two ultra-harsh environment jack-up rigs will carry out activities offshore Norway.

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At the time, the two players further committed to a hybrid investment case, under which Maersk Drilling will outfit the ultra-harsh environment jack-up Maersk Invincible with hybrid, low-emission upgrades similar to that previously installed on Maersk Intrepid and Maersk Integrator.

Both of the players are currently in the process of completing mergers with other companies. Maersk Drilling is setting the stage to merge with Noble Corp. and both companies expect they will have to divest certain North Sea rigs to obtain it.

On the other hand, Aker BP agreed in December 2021 to acquire Lundin Energy’s oil and gas business, through a statutory merger, in a push to create an E&P firm, which will be the largest listed E&P company focused exclusively on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS). The completion of the combination with Aker BP is planned to occur late in the second quarter of 2022.

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