Seeking rig renewal
A safer and more efficient rig fleet is being sought by Statoil through the replacement of older units with newbuildings.
The existing fleet of mobile rigs chartered by the group will have an average age of 22 years in 2005, when most of the present contracts with options are due to have expired.
Of the 16 rigs available to it, Statoil regards Transocean Wildcat, Byford Dolphin and Deepsea Trym - all built in the 1970s - as ready for replacement.
"We want a more modern fleet for safety, working environment and operative reasons," says drilling vice president Mads Grinrød. The group is accordingly looking for two-three new rigs capable of operating in water depths down to 500 metres.
"Our goal of a more modern fleet could mean that we and our licence partners must accept paying more to secure the improved safety and a better working environment offered by newbuildings," says Mr Grinrød.
Statoil hopes that others will help to carry the financial burden of a new rig. Five-year contracts with a smaller number of rig operators than at present are another Statoil goal.
The global market for mobile rigs was characterised by overcapacity from the early 1980s to 1996. Strong growth in rig demand since 1995 has led to today's shortages and high day rates.