Bahamas Petroleum sets new spud date as Stena picks rig for offshore well

Offshore drilling contractor Stena Drilling has nominated a drillship to drill an exploration well offshore The Bahamas for Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC).

Stena IceMax drillship; Source: BPC
Stena IceMax drillship
Stena IceMax drillship; Source: BPC

BPC said on Friday it has received formal notification from Stena Drilling, consistent with the existing contract, nominating the Stena IceMAX as the intended drill rig for the upcoming Perseverance #1 drilling campaign.

The notification has also indicated the start of the contracted window, which starts 15 December 2020, as the approximate time for the arrival of the drillship in the field, with an associated anticipated well spud date some 3 – 4 days later, once the rig is on station, BPC added.

The Perseverance #1 well, which was previously supposed to be drilled in April but was delayed due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, is now expected to be spud prior to Christmas 2020.

Simon Potter, Chief Executive Officer of BPC, said: “In March 2020, the company was within weeks of commencing the drilling of the Perseverance #1 well when compelled to defer operations due to the anticipated impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As might be expected when such an advanced well plan is halted so close to final implementation, major elements were already in train or sufficiently well established such that reactivation is a relatively straightforward matter.

“With the clarity of the anticipated delivery date of the Stena IceMAX into the field, this work can now be reactivated against a detailed timetable and progressed”.

Force majeure due to Covid-19

BPC has an obligation to drill an initial exploration well prior to the conclusion of the current exploration period of its four commercially conjoined licences in the southern territorial waters of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

That period was due to expire on 31 December 2020, but is extendable based upon the declaration of force majeure occasioned by the Bahamian and global response to the Covid-19 virus pandemic.

An interim force majeure extension of 3.5 months has already been agreed with The Government of The Bahamas, thereby extending the term of the current exploration period to at least mid-April 2021 albeit, given the force majeure event is currently ongoing, BPC expects that the ultimate force majeure extension will be extended so as to be commensurate with the period of the continuing state of emergency in The Bahamas.

At the same time, the company’s long-stated policy has been to avoid undertaking drilling activities during the peak of the Bahamian hurricane season, which traditionally ends in November of each year.

Accordingly, during the period of Covid-19 related shut-downs, BPC sought to reschedule its drilling plans, including all critical supply and service contracts, along with finance arrangements, towards a revised operational objective of drilling Perseverance #1 in the period December 2020 to April 2021.

BPC signed a drilling contract with Stena Drilling for the provision of a rig for its Perseverance #1 well, thereby ditching its previous plans to use a Seadrill-owned rig for this well, in May 2020.

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At the time, the two companies agreed for the provision of a sixth-generation drilling rig, which may be any of the Stena IceMax, Stena Forth, or Stena DrillMax or, subject to agreement, any other suitable Stena rig.

It has now been decided that BPC will use the Stena IceMax drillship.

The specific mobilisation location and exact arrival date of the rig will be confirmed by Stena no later than 30 days prior to the arrival date.

Anticipated well spud date will be some 3-4 days after the rig arrives on location in the field. This means that if the rig arrival is on or shortly after the 15 December 2020 (as per Stena’s current indication), Perseverance #1 would be expected to spud prior to Christmas 2020.

The nomination of the rig and provision of guidance as to the date on which the rig will be on location, will now enable a number of critical work items to be progressed within clearly defined timetable. 

This includes final logistics planning, ongoing maturation of Covid-19 mitigation and operations planning, as the global situation continues to unfold; submission of IceMax specific operating and safety-related documentation to regulators in The Bahamas in accordance with regulations.

It also includes completing the process of emplacing appropriate well insurance policies; finalising and executing all relevant Master Service Agreements with contractors, and final review of well costings and budget.

BPC has consulted with global medical experts in the formulation of a Covid-19 safe operating plan, and is working closely with Stena Drilling on planning its detailed implementation.

Stena Drilling has also recently won a contract for the Stena IceMax for operations offshore Mexico. Under this deal, the rig will be used for Repsol’s 2021 drilling campaign in Block 29 located in the Salina Basin.