Blackford Dolphin rig; Source: Dolphin Drilling

Rig termination rigmarole: Dolphin Drilling seeks to discharge interim injunction in Nigeria and oppose court proceedings

Norway-headquartered offshore drilling contractor Dolphin Drilling is preparing to set the wheels in motion to get rid of an interim injunction, which Lagos-based General Hydrocarbons Limited (GHL) secured for the firm’s semi-submersible rig in response to a notice of termination of a drilling contract off the coast of Nigeria. In addition, the Norwegian player is getting ready to dispute court proceedings in an action brought by Technova Africa International Limited (Technova).

Blackford Dolphin rig; Source: Dolphin Drilling

Once Dolphin Drilling sent a notice of termination of a drilling contract to General Hydrocarbons Limited for the Blackford Dolphin rig, both companies made requests to start arbitration proceedings. The Norwegian rig owner embarked on such action to pursue what it says is the recovery of sums remaining due by GHL.

On the other hand, the Nigerian oil and gas firm decided to dispute the termination of the rig contract, making an application to the African country’s courts for an interim injunction to maintain the status quo and stop Dolphin Drilling from demobilizing or removing the rig, pending the appointment of an arbitrator.

After GHL obtained an interim injunction, both players confirmed the appointment of a sole arbitrator. However, Dolphin Drilling said on May 15 that the Nigerian court made no new decision concerning the alleged restraining order for the Blackford Dolphin rig and was expected to hear arguments on May 20 on the discharge of the status quo orders granted earlier.

As the judge decided to uphold the interim injunction order following the hearing on May 20, outlining that it would continue to be in force pending orders by the arbitrator, the rig owner plans to make submissions for consideration by the arbitrator, seeking the discharge of the interim injunction over the course of the week.

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This rig termination saga continues to unfold as the plot thickens further with a new twist for Dolphin Drilling, as the company has received service of Nigerian court proceedings in an action brought by Technova, which obtained an ex parte order of arrestment against the Blackford Dolphin rig.

“The company is in process of reviewing the court proceedings and confirms that it considers the claims of Technova to be without merit. The company shall be taking immediate steps to contest the court proceedings including to contest the said order,” emphasized the Norwegian rig owner.