Shelf Drilling Barsk (former Noble Lloyd Noble) jack-up rig; Source: Jamie Baikie/Equinor

Equinor getting ready to spud two North Sea wells with Shelf Drilling and Transocean rigs

Norwegian state-owned energy giant Equinor has received consent from the country’s offshore safety regulator to use rigs owned by Shelf Drilling and Transocean for drilling activities in the North Sea off Norway.

Shelf Drilling Barsk (former Noble Lloyd Noble) jack-up rig; Source: Jamie Baikie/Equinor

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has given Equinor consent for exploration drilling in blocks 15/6 and 30/4 in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea.

The well 15/6-B-20, known as the Dougal prospect, is located in production licences 029 C – operated by Equinor (57 per cent) with Petoro (30 per cent) and Vår Energi (13 per cent) as partners – and 048, which is also operated by Equinor (78.2 per cent) with KUFPEC Norway (21.8 per cent) as its partner in this licence.

The water depth at the site is 116 metres. The well 15/6-B-20 will be drilled by the Noble Lloyd Noble jack-up rig, which was bought by Shelf Drilling and will be renamed Shelf Drilling Barsk. This rig was sold as part of Noble’s efforts to remedy competition concerns related to its merger with Maersk Drilling, which was concluded in 2022. The 2016-built Shelf Drilling Barsk jack-up rig is of GustoMSC CJ70-X150-ST design and can accommodate 140 people.

On the other hand, the well 30/4-4 (the Sara prospect) is situated in production licence 043 FS, which was awarded on 17 February 2023 and is valid until 17 February 2028. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) granted Equinor a drilling permit for this wildcat well a few days ago.

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 water depth at the site is 128.6 metres and 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.

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.

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