Island Innovator rig; Source: Island Drilling

‘We do not compromise with safety,’ says CEO as Island Drilling looks into legal steps to challenge rig termination

Norwegian offshore rig operator Island Drilling Company is in the process of evaluating all legal recourse at its disposal to contest a recent termination of a rig contract, after Trident Energy and its joint venture (JV) partners on Block G offshore Equatorial Guinea broke off the contract, citing safety concerns, which the rig owner adamantly denies.

Island Innovator rig; Source: Island Drilling

The Island Innovator semi-submersible rig started the planned three-well infill drilling campaign in January 2024 at Block G, which is operated by Trident Energy (40.375%) while other joint venture partners are Kosmos Energy (40.375%), Panoro Energy (14.25%), and GEPetrol (5%). This three-well infill drilling campaign offshore Equatorial Guinea has been put on ice until a new rig is secured for the job, due to the rig contract termination on February 8.

The decision to terminate the current rig contract for the Island Innovator semi-sub stems from the Block G joint venture’s belief that the rig is “not operationally in a condition to safely” drill these wells, according to Panoro. However, Island Drilling is disputing the termination of the drilling contract with Trident, which hired the Island Innovator rig in September 2022 for two firm and five optional wells. Afterward, the company exercised two of these options in July 2023 and extended the rig’s backlog further in September 2023. 

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Island Drilling, which claims that the statements being made by Trident and its partners are not an accurate description of the situation on the Island Innovator rig, highlights that there have been no critical safety incidents. The firm underlines that the BOP has been checked and tested by the OEM representative on board the rig and declared safe and ready for operations. Therefore, the rig owner is reviewing the options at its disposal to pursue legal action over the contract termination. 

Roger Simmenes, Island Drilling’s CEO, emphasized: To be clear, we do not compromise with safety! Our onshore and offshore personnel work together as one team to ensure a safe workplace for all. We are committed to strictly adhering to IOGP life-saving rules in all aspects of our operations, prioritizing safety as a fundamental value within our organization.”

The company explains that its risk management is built on international risk standards and well integrated into its planning and preparation processes while its safety observation program is central to its safety culture. Island Drilling is adamant that its employees consistently utilize this observation system across all facets of their operations, ensuring that potential hazards are identified and mitigated promptly.

Aside from this, work permits undergo an additional in-field check to verify compliance with the company’s procedures and regulatory requirements to uphold the rig owner’s safety standards while offshore management conducts inspections on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to verify adherence to international regulations, with a focus on safety, environmental sustainability, and quality assurance.

The 2012-built Island Innovator rig is a sixth-generation semi-submersible drilling, well intervention, and completion unit of GM4000 WI enhanced design.