Photo: Topaz Driller jack-up rig will drill off Montenegro for Eni and Novatek; Photo source: Vantage Drilling

Eni and Novatek kicking off drilling ops off Montenegro

Italy’s oil and gas company Eni and Russia’s Novatek are starting drilling operations in waters offshore Montenegro, using Vantage Drilling’s Topaz Driller jack-up rig.

As previously reported, the Topaz Driller arrived in Montenegro earlier in March 2021 ahead of its planned activities in Montenegro’s waters off Ulcinj.

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According to a statement by Montenegro’s Ministry of Capital Investments on Thursday, 25 March 2021, the pre-spud meeting is being held today via an online platform. These types of meetings are usually held on the rig, however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the meeting will be held online.

At the meeting, representatives from Eni, Novatek, Montenegro’s Ministry of Capital Investments, and Marko Perunović, a state secretary at the ministry, will discuss the project and implemented safety measures on the rig and the Port of Bar.

The ministry also noted that the Eni and Novatek consortium allocated over 2.5 million euros on measures to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Eni and Novatek will drill the first oil exploration well 14 nautical miles offshore with a planned depth of 6,525 meters.

It is expected that drilling operations will last between four and a half to six months, depending on well results.

Following drilling operations, the two companies will analyze the data and estimate the potential. Should the well be successful, the first production could start in four to six years.

The second well, which will be drilled after the first one is completed, will be a gas well and it will be drilled at a significantly lower depth.

Eni signed a concession contract with Montenegro’s government in 2016 for exploring and producing in the four blocks 4118-4, 4118-5, 4118-9, and 4118-10, all offshore.

The blocks cover an overall surface of 1,228 km2 and were assigned through the first round of international competitive bidding. The first phase under the concession is for the duration of seven years.

Eni Montenegro and Novatek are partners in a joint venture, with a 50 per cent interest each.