Photo: Topaz Driller jack-up rig; Source: Vantage

Eni gears up to drill Montenegro well as rig arrives

Italy’s oil and gas company Eni and Russia’s Novatek will start drilling an exploration well in waters offshore Montenegro later this month.

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.

The two companies will be using the Vantage Drilling-owned Topaz Driller jack-up rig for drilling operations off Montenegro.

Vantage Drilling entered into a contract with Eni for the Topaz Driller for drilling services offshore Montenegro at the beginning of July 2020.

The contract with Eni is for the duration of 180 days, scheduled to start during 1Q 2021.

Vantage’s fleet status report from March 2021 shows that the rig will be under the contract with Eni until approximately mid-3Q 2021 and after that Eni has options to extend the contract till the end of 3Q.

According to Montenegro’s Ministry of Capital Investments, Eni and Novatek will drill the first oil exploration well 14 nautical miles offshore with a planned depth of 6,525 meters.

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.   

At a press conference held by Montenegro’s government last Friday, 12 March, Marko Perunović, a state secretary at the capital investments ministry, said the rig would be at the well location on the night of 13 March 2021.

Perunović added at the press conference that, once the rig was on location, additional surveys and inspections would be needed and the exploration drilling was expected to start on 25 March 2021.

As detailed by Perunović, it is expected that drilling operations will last between four and a half to six months, depending on well results.

It is also worth reminding that the 2009-built Topaz Driller has recently completed a four-month maintenance program at MMH Malta after being warm-stacked during most of 2Q and 3Q 2020.

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Perunović also mentioned that Energean, a concessionaire at another concession area in Montenegro, is looking for a partner in order to proceed with its plans for the area.

This is needed under the requirements of the concession agreement as no company is allowed to conduct exploration there on its own.

Energean signed the exploration and production concession contract with Montenegro, covering offshore blocks 4219-26 and 4218-30, back in 2017.