Photo: Noble Hans Deul rig & Blythe platform; Source: IOG

IOG halts North Sea ops after issue found on Noble rig’s leg

While moving to start drilling operations in the UK North Sea for IOG plc, an issue has been found on one of the legs of a Noble Corporation-owned jack-up rig, which resulted in an operation halt and will require a damage assessment in the port.

The Noble Hans Deul jack-up in September drilled, cleaned up, and flow tested the Blythe development well for IOG, after which it was scheduled to mobilise across to Southwark, the third of the Phase 1 fields after Elgood and Blythe, where it would spud the next production well through the Southwark platform.

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However, things did not go as planned for IOG. Namely, over recent days, the Noble Hans Deul jack-up drilling rig mobilised to Southwark following completion of the Blythe production well. Early on Sunday 10 October, during routine jacking operations after arriving at the field, an issue was identified on one of the legs of the rig and the installation process was halted, IOG informed on Monday.

No drilling or associated works were ongoing at the time. The rig went to full muster while the issue was assessed and all 66 people on board are safe and well. There was no damage to the rig hull or to the Southwark platform. The rig is stable and connected to tow boats while the crew assesses its condition.

IOG underlined that its priority and its drilling contractors remain the safety of all relevant personnel, ensuring the rig’s ongoing integrity and the safe and efficient continuation of the Phase 1 drilling campaign at the earliest feasible time.

Noble Corporation, the rig owner, has initiated an investigation into the cause of the issue. It is initially expected that the rig will be transported to port to undertake any necessary assessments before drilling can be safely resumed. IOG said it would release further relevant information as it becomes available.

The company continues to expect the first gas from both the Blythe and Elgood fields in 4Q 2021 once the final subsea and onshore installations are complete.

Andrew Hockey, CEO of IOG, commented: “Needless to say, we will be taking all necessary actions to minimise the interruption to safe and efficient development drilling at Southwark caused by this unexpected issue identified by the Noble Hans Deul rig during jacking operations. Most importantly, there has been no harm to any personnel or any IOG assets.

“In the meantime, this has no bearing on the timing of Phase 1 First Gas from the Blythe and Elgood fields which remains on schedule to occur during Q4 2021.”