Photo: Transocean Enabler rig; Credit: Jan Arne Wold/Woldcam - Equinor

Equinor sets its sights on Barents Sea wildcat

Norwegian oil and gas giant Equinor has received a drilling permit from Norwegian authorities for the drilling of a wildcat well located in the Barents Sea off Norway.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) confirmed on Tuesday that the well 7220/8-3 will be drilled using the Transocean Enabler rig.

The well is located in the Equinor-operated Johan Castberg license in the Barents Sea, approximately 4.5 km from the planned location for Johan Castberg FPSO. As previously reported, Sembcorp Marine completed the Johan Castberg FPSO hull in February 2022 and the vessel is now on its way to Norway.

Source: NPD
Source: NPD

The drilling programme for this well entails the drilling of an exploration well in production licence 532, which was originally awarded in 2009 and has been extended until the end of 2049.

Equinor is the operator of the licence with an ownership interest of 50 per cent, while other licensees are Petoro (20 per cent) and Var Energi (30 per cent).

Based on information available to the Norwegian Environment Agency, the earliest operation start-up is planned for March 2022 and the drilling is planned to last for 38 days in case of a discovery.

The Transocean Enabler semi-submersible drilling rig – designed to operate in harsh environments – is under contract with Equinor until 2024 and the Norwegian state-owned giant used this rig last year to drill a wildcat well in the Barents Sea, which resulted in an oil discovery.

Equinor has also recently secured a permit for well 7220/8-2 S, located in the same licence, which is expected to be drilled this month. Furthermore, the rig is scheduled to drill later this year one carbon injection well and a sidetrack for another carbon injection well drilled in early 2020 in support of the Northern Lights carbon capture and storage project, which is a joint venture created by Equinor, Shell, and TotalEnergies.

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Built at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in South Korea in 2016 as Songa Enabler, the Transocean Enabler rig was owned and operated by Songa Offshore. However, following Transocean’s acquisition of the company in 2018, the rig received a new Acknowledgement of Compliance (AoC) from the PSA in April 2019.