Transocean Encourage rig; Source: Transocean

Seal of approval for Equinor to start drilling activities with Transocean rig

Norwegian state-owned energy giant Equinor has received consent from Norway’s offshore safety regulator to use one of Transocean’s semi-submersible rigs on a block located in the Norwegian Sea.

Transocean Encourage rig; Source: Transocean

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) informed on Wednesday, 14 June 2023, that it had given Equinor consent to use the Transocean Encourage rig for production drilling in block 6506/9 in the Norwegian Sea. The consent includes plugging/production drilling/completion/intervention and workover of well NC-1 Smørbukk Nord.

Furthermore, these activities are expected to be carried out in production licences 094 and 479. The first licence was awarded on 9 March 1984 and is valid until 10 April 2027. Equinor is the operator of the licence with a 40.95 per cent stake, while its partners are Petoro (14.95 per cent), TotalEnergies E&P Norge (9.8 per cent), and Vår Energi (34.3 per cent).

On the other hand, the second licence, which was awarded on 29 February 2008 and is valid until 10 April 2027, is also operated by Equinor with a 35.01 interest while its partners, Petoro, TotalEnergies E&P Norge, and Vår Energi, hold the remaining 34.53, 7.81, and 22.65 participating interest, respectively.

Transocean Encourage is a harsh-environment semi-submersible rig of GVA 4000 NCS design. The 2016-built rig can accommodate up to 130 people. Originally, it received the Acknowledgement of Compliance (AoC) from the PSA in 2016 when it was called Songa Encourage. Following a change in rig ownership, Transocean applied for a new AoC and changed the name of the rig to Transocean Encourage. The new AoC was received in June 2019.

Transocean’s fleet status report from April 2023 shows that the rig’s current day rate with Equinor, which started in March 2023, is $405,000. The day rate is due to change in November 2023 to $350,000, which is slated to last until February 2025. As a reminder, Equinor extended multiple contracts in May 2022, including the one with Halliburton for work on the Transocean Encourage rig.

The rig is currently on an eight-year contract with Equinor while a new nine-well contract with the Norwegian state-owned energy giant is expected to start in November 2023. The rig’s new drilling programme in the Norwegian Sea entails spinning the drill bit on the Tyrihans, Verdande, Andvare, and Vigdis fields, with Verdande and Andvare expected to be tied into the Norne field. This drilling programme may be further extended to add six more wells.