Two rigs bought from Transocean come under the wing of Dolphin Drilling

Offshore drilling contractor Dolphin Drilling has confirmed the start of operations and the final transfer of ownership for two semi-submersible rigs acquired from Transocean. This enables the company to boost its rig fleet and opens the doors to new growth opportunities in the UK and abroad.

Paul B. Loyd Jr. rig; Source: Transocean

Dolphin Drilling set the wheels in motion to expand its fleet in 2Q 2023, by acquiring two semi-submersible rigs – Paul B. Loyd Jr. and Transocean Leader – from Transocean for a total of $64.5 million. The company also announced a further three-year extension for the first rig with Harbour Energy, prolonging the contract for three years until September 2027.

The completion of the acquisition agreement was conditioned upon the acceptance of a material change of the Paul B. Loyd, Jr. UK HSE safety case to Dolphin Drilling as duty holder, which was obtained in November 2023 ahead of schedule. This rig has a firm revenue backlog of $280 million, and the finalization of the acquisition is anticipated to position Dolphin Drilling as a leading offshore drilling contractor in the UK sector.

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Bjørnar Iversen, CEO of Dolphin Drilling, commented: “To commence operations is an important milestone for Dolphin Drilling as we showcase our operational platform’s capacity to incorporate additional assets and generate immediate, robust cash flows for our shareholders. We see strong interest for our offshore floater rigs in the UK sector, providing safe and efficient operations for our clients.”

Following the closing of the acquisition, the Paul B. Loyd, Jr. rig will be under contract with Harbour Energy in the UK until February 2028, with another five one-year extension options at the firm’s disposal. In addition, the offshore drilling player has entered into a five plus five-year master service agreement (MSA) with Harbour Energy.

Iversen outlined: “The MSA with Harbour Energy allows Dolphin Drilling to work in close strategic cooperation with one of the largest North Sea E&P companies. The UK drilling market is showing positive signs and the Dolphin Drilling fleet offers flexibility to take on all floating rig requirements in the years to come including exploration drilling, production drilling and plug and abandonment work across the UK sector.”

The 1990-built Paul B. Loyd Jr. rig is of Aker H 4.2 design and was constructed at Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea. The rig, which can accommodate 120 people, can operate in water depths of 1,969 ft. The semi-sub’s maximum drilling depth is 20,000 ft.

On the other hand, the 1987-built Transocean Leader Aker H-4.2 non-self-propelled semi-sub rig had significant upgrades in 1997 and 2012. With a maximum drilling depth of 25,000 ft, it can accommodate 110 people. This rig has been stacked in the UK’s Cromarty Firth since 2020.