Photo: Transocean Spitsbergen; Photo: Jamie Baikie, SIGNAL2NOISE/Equinor

With clearance in hand, Equinor set to use Transocean rig for North Sea drilling

Norwegian oil and gas company Equinor has received consent from Norway’s offshore safety regulator for exploration drilling in the North Sea, using one of Transocean’s semi-submersible rigs.

The Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) informed last week that it had given Equinor consent for exploration drilling in block 31/1, which is located in the North Sea offshore Norway. This comes only days after Equinor was granted a drilling permit for wells 31/1-3 S and 31/1-3 A by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD).

The prospect, Røver Sør, is located in production licence 923, which was originally awarded on 2 March 2018 and is valid until 2 March 2025. Equinor is the operator of the licence with an ownership interest of 40 per cent, while other licensees are DNO Norge, Petoro, and Wellesley Petroleum with a 20 per cent stake, respectively.

The water depth at the location is around 348 metres and the wells, 31/1-3 A, 31/1-3 S and 31/1-3-U-1, will be drilled using the Transocean Spitsbergen semi-submersible rig. The wells are located in the northern North Sea, west of Troll. The shortest distance to land is approximately 80 km. Based on information available to the Norwegian Environment Agency, the operation start-up is planned for September 2022.

This rig has been working for Equinor for years and Transocean’s fleet status report from July shows that the latest contract for this rig started in April 2022, with a day rate of $270,000, and the latest option will run from July 2022 until January 2023. Equinor exercised a one-well option in Norway for the Transocean Spitsbergen rig in April 2022 and followed this up in June 2022 with another extension, which is expected to start in October 2023 and end in April 2025.

The 2009-built Transocean Spitsbergen is a 6th generation dual-derrick winterised semi-submersible rig capable of drilling high-pressure/high-temperature formations and is equipped with an automatic drilling control system. This rig was constructed at Aker Stord. 

As revealed by Transocean in late July, several new contracts and extensions were recently secured for its rigs with an aggregate incremental backlog of approximately $650 million.

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This brings the company’s total backlog to approximately $6.2 billion as of 25 July.