Deepwater Aquila (ex-West Aquila) drillship; Source: DSME

Transocean’s newbuild drillship going to Brazil for its inaugural job

Offshore drilling contractor Transocean has secured a new long-term contract for a newbuild ultra-deepwater drillship, which will enable the rig to work with a national oil company offshore Brazil.

Deepwater Aquila (ex-West Aquila) drillship; Source: DSME

The drilling giant revealed in the fourth quarter of 2022 that it had signed a purchase agreement as part of a joint venture – together with Perestroika and funds managed by Lime Rock Management – for the acquisition of the Deepwater Aquila (ex-West Aquila) seventh-generation drillship for $200 million from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME). This drillship is one of two rigs that were originally ordered in 2013 by Seadrill.

Transocean has now confirmed a three-year contract award for this rig, which is expected to start in the third quarter of 2024 offshore Brazil. This deal represents approximately $486 million in firm backlog, excluding a mobilisation fee of around 90 times the contract day rate.

Furthermore, the firm also agreed to acquire the outstanding interests in Liquila Ventures Ltd., a company that was formed to acquire the Deepwater Aquila drillship, from its joint venture partners, Perestroika and Lime Rock Partners.

Following this acquisition, Transocean will own and operate eight of the twelve ultra-deepwater, 1,400 short-ton hookload drillships in the world. The Deepwater Aquila rig is expected to be delivered from the shipyard in October 2023.

Regarding the execution of the drilling contract for the drillship and the acquisition of the outstanding interests in Liquila Ventures, the offshore drilling player is exploring various debt financing alternatives to partially fund the costs associated with acquiring the rig from the shipyard and preparing it for its contract in Brazil.

Transocean expanded its contract backlog with multiple new deals during the second quarter of 2023, bringing it to $9.2 billion. At the end of August 2023, the company secured another long-term deal for an ultra-deepwater drillship offshore India.