Charters awarded for 10 rig-years

August 31, 2005, 16:50 CEST

Three rigs owned by two drilling contractors have been chartered by Statoil on behalf of a partnership which also includes Eni Norge, Norsk Hydro and Norske Shell.

Confirming earlier letters of intent, these contracts relate to Smedvig’s West Alpha unit and the Transocean Arctic and Polar Pioneer vessels owned by Transocean.

The three-year charter for West Alpha starts in the first quarter of 2006, and this rig will primarily be used for exploration.

It is currently drilling production wells on Statoil’s Kristin development in the Norwegian Sea.

Transocean Arctic has been chartered for about four years from the second half of 2006, and will be used for exploration drilling by the partners.

Currently doing field drilling for Statoil on Norne and the Norne satellites in the Norwegian Sea, it is also due to work on Statoil’s Tyrihans project in the same waters.

The charter for Polar Pioneer, currently drilling production wells on Statoil’s Snøhvit field in the Barents Sea, will run for about three years from the second quarter of 2006.

This rig will primarily be used for exploration work on the Norwegian continental shelf, including the Barents Sea.

The collaboration between the four partners is forward-looking and a milestone for operator cooperation on the NCS, according to Arne Tillerli Statoil’s manager for the partnership.

He notes that these waters are currently characterised by a tight rig market for exploration and production drilling as well as for well workovers.

The partnership model also represents a crucial step towards achieving the industry’s chosen solution for broad operator cooperation.

This approach is supported by the Norwegian government through the Kon-Kraft industrial collaboration.

“Our rig cooperation will be highly significant for exploration on the NCS over the next two-three years,” says Tim Dodson, senior vice president for NCS exploration at Statoil.

“It ensures that the four companies involved have the rig capacity they need for a large part of their drilling programmes.”