Transocean Spitsbergen; Photo: Jamie Baikie, SIGNAL2NOISE/Equinor

Equinor gearing up to drill North Sea prospect with Transocean rig

Norwegian state-owned oil and gas giant Equinor has secured a drilling permit from the country’s authorities for an exploration well in the North Sea off Norway. The drilling activities are expected to be undertaken using one of Transocean’s rigs.

Transocean Spitsbergen; Photo: Jamie Baikie, SIGNAL2NOISE/Equinor

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) reported on Monday, 14 August 2023, that it had granted Equinor a drilling permit for a wildcat well 30/4-4 in production licence 043 FS, which was awarded on 17 February 2023 and is valid until 17 February 2028.

Equinor is the operator of the licence and holds an ownership interest of 51 per cent, while its partners, Petoro and Sval Energi, hold the remaining 30 and 19 per cent interest, respectively. The well 30/4-4 is expected to be spud in September 2023.

The drilling operations will be carried out with the Transocean Spitsbergen semi-submersible rig, which initially received the Acknowledgement of Compliance (AoC) from the PSA in July 2009 when it was called Aker Spitsbergen.

Following a change in rig ownership, Transocean applied for a new AoC and changed the rig’s name to Transocean Spitsbergen. The new AoC was received in 2012. This rig has been working for Equinor for several years.

Transocean’s fleet status report from July 2023 shows that the rig is currently contracted under a day rate of $311,000 until September 2023 when it is due to reach $333,000 per day, which is slated to remain until March 2025.

The 2010-built Transocean Spitsbergen is a sixth-generation dual-derrick winterised semi-submersible rig capable of drilling high-pressure/high-temperature formations and equipped with an automatic drilling control system. This rig was built at Aker Stord.