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Eirik Raude for the Barents Sea

May 12, 2004, 11:00 CEST

A charter worth around NOK 340 million covering use of the Eirik Raude drilling rig in the Barents Sea has been awarded by Statoil to owner Ocean Rig.

Due to run for an estimated 155 days, this contract has been placed on behalf of the licensees in three exploration areas.

Statoil plans to operate one well each in areas G and F, while Hydro intends to drill one in area C.

”We’ve opted for Eirik Raude because it’s among the most suitable vessels for the job,” explains Tor Gunnar Gloppen in the rig management unit of Exploration & Production Norway.

”It’s big, new and built to work in environmentally-sensitive arctic waters. Over the past couple of years, it’s operated off Canada in areas with weather just as tough as in the Barents Sea.”

Statoil and Hydro signed a letter of intent with Ocean Rig in April on drilling the three wells, but the rig to be used has only now been clarified.

Plans call for the first well to be spudded in late autumn. Eirik Raude will also do a minor job for Hydro on the Troll field in the North Sea before moving to the Barents Sea. The Troll work is included in the charter’s overall value.