Photo: Noble Hans Deul rig; Source: IOG

IOG working to remediate challenging seabed conditions threatening rig stability

UK company IOG plc has experienced further problems with drilling operations in the UK North Sea due to challenges with seabed conditions, which could compromise rig stability.

Following a two-month hiatus due to issues with a Noble Corporation-owned rig, drilling operations have continued at the Southwark field since the first development well was spudded on 30 December 2021.

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However, the Noble Hans Deul rig has experienced an increasing challenge with seabed conditions that, if not remediated, would compromise rig stability, IOG informed on Monday.

According to the company, technical personnel have explored potential options to manage these challenges. However, on Friday 7 January, the rig owner concluded that, as a prudent precautionary measure, temporary re-location of the rig will be required to facilitate seabed remediation and enable the safe continuation of Southwark drilling operations. This course of action is now in motion.

IOG emphasised that the temporary relocation of the rig minimises the safety and integrity risks to personnel and assets. The rig is expected to remain offshore with non-essential crew and equipment demobilised while the issue is rectified. It is still uncertain how long the remediation work will last.

Andrew Hockey, CEO of IOG, commented: “This is a frustrating but absolutely necessary step to ensure we can drill and complete the Southwark production wells in a fully safe manner, which is always our foremost priority. Our team is working around the clock with our drilling contractors Noble Corporation and Petrofac to minimise the interruption and resume the Southwark drilling programme at the earliest opportunity.”

Blythe, Elgood, and Southwark fields – in the UK Southern North Sea – are part of the IOG-operated Saturn Banks Project – Phase 1, which was sanctioned in October 2019. IOG holds 50 per cent and its partner CalEnergy Resources holds the other 50 per cent interest.