Thumbs-up for Equinor to begin drilling at North Sea field

Norwegian state-owned energy giant Equinor has received consent from the country’s offshore safety regulator to carry out activities in the North Sea off Norway, using a KCA Deutag Drilling-managed rig.

Askepott rig; Source: Equinor

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) recently gave Equinor consent to use the Askepott rig for production drilling, completion, plugging and abandonment, and intervention activities on the Martin Linge field, located near the border to the UK sector in the northern part of the North Sea, 42 kilometers west of the Oseberg field. The water depth at the site is 115 meters.

The field was discovered in 1978 and the plan for development and operation (PDO) was approved in 2012. The development concept entails a fully integrated fixed production platform and a floating, storage and offloading unit (FSO) for oil storage. The production from the field started in 2021.

Equinor, and its license partners in the Gullfaks and Oseberg area, acquired two rigs – named Askepott and Askeladden – in 2013 while Samsung Heavy Industries and KCA Deutag got contracts for the construction and operation. At the time, arrangements were made for these rigs to be owned by the Gullfaks and Oseberg licensees, but operated by a drilling contractor.

While the initial operation contract was for a period of eight years, it came with four three-year extension options. These two Cat J rigs are tailored to the conditions in the North Sea and specially designed to perform drilling operations on subsea development solutions in addition to conventional surface drilling from fixed platforms.

An electrification project, which was awarded to KCA Deutag’s Kenera business unit in Norway, will enable Equinor to upgrade the Askepott rig, so that, it can be powered from onshore, upon completion in 4Q 2024.

The rig will receive power from high voltage cabling via the Martin Linge A platform, which is already supplied with power from the shore through – what is said to be – the world’s longest alternating current cable located 42 kilometers west of the Oseberg field on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS).