Photo: Deepsea Nordkapp rig

Aker BP cleared to drill pilot well in North Sea

Norwegian offshore petroleum safety regulator has granted Aker BP consent for exploration drilling in the North Sea, using the Deepsea Nordkapp semi-submersible rig.

The Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) said on Wednesday that it had given Aker BP consent to drill the pilot well 25/10-U-8, located in the North Sea. The well is located in production licence 028B, which is operated by Aker BP with a 35 per cent interest, while other licensees are Equinor (50 per cent) and Spirit Energy Norway (15 per cent).

The drilling operations are expected to take three days and will be conducted in water depths of 116 meters. Aker BP will be using the Odfjell Drilling-owned Deepsea Nordkapp rig to drill the well. The rig is a 6th generation dynamically positioned harsh environment and winterized semi-submersible of a Moss enhanced CS 60E design.

Deepsea Nordkapp is contracted under the terms of the drilling agreement that Odfjell Drilling and Aker BP entered into in April 2018. The rig was originally awarded a two-year contract with two annual extension options.

In line with this, in December 2019, Aker BP decided to exercise its first one-year extension option, followed by the second one, which was exercised in March 2021.

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This second option will start after the expiry of the first optional period in June 2022. An additional scope based option period has also been agreed upon, which – if exercised – will follow completion of the firm period and have a duration of up to 12 months.

Based on the offshore regulator’s statement, the primary objective of the pilot well 25/10-U-8 is to verify that the planned drilled sites for the Hanz development wells 25/10-A-1 AH and 25/10-B-1 H are free of shallow gas/water hazards.

Aker BP and its licence partners affirmed the investment decision (DG3) for the development of the Hanz discovery in December 2021. Hanz is an oil and gas discovery that will be tied into the Ivar Aasen platform, which is located about twelve kilometres further south. In the quest to put its plans into motion, the company last December awarded a contract to Subsea 7 for the subsea tie-back of approximately five kilometres to the Ivar Aasen platform.

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It is also worth reminding that Aker BP is in the process of merging with Lundin Energy’s oil and gas business 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).