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This week Shelf Drilling, Valaris and Aquadrill announced new contracts, while CIMC secured contract extensions for Gulf Driller VI and Gulf Driller VIII in Mexico. Meanwhile, TotalEnergies is expected to commence the Venus appraisal program in Q1 2023

In case you missed it, you can access our previous Rig Market Round-Up here.


Shelf Drilling has secured a contract extension with Cabinda Gulf Oil Company for jackup Shelf Drilling Tenacious in direct continuation of its current contract, keeping the rig working offshore Angola until November 2023. The contract also includes an additional one-year option for the 375-ft jackup, which began work with Cabinda Gulf in January 2022.

BP has awarded a four-well contract offshore Egypt to Valaris 12,000-ft drillship Valaris DS-12. The contract is expected begin late in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter 2023 and has an estimated duration of 320 days. The estimated total contract value, including mobilization fees, is USD136.4 million. The 7th generation drillship has been working for BP offshore Angola, Mauritania and Senegal throughout 2022 and has a two-well term offshore Angola lined up for early 2023.

Aquadrill announced that the ultra-deepwater drillship Capella has been awarded a contract for a four well drilling programme plus two priced and three mutually agreed optional wells for work offshore Indonesia. The contract value for the firm duration is approximately USD 138 million and the work is expected to commence early May 2023 and last until mid-April 2024. If the options are exercised then the additional contract value will be approximately USD 56 million and the drillship will remain working until early September 2024.

CIMC Raffles owned F&G JU-2000E jackups Gulf Driller VI and Gulf Driller VIII have been awarded a 3-year contract extension with Mexican oil company PEMEX. The two rigs were delivered in 2019 and has been contracted with PEMEX since then under management by Mexican drilling contractor CP Latina. The extension will keep the rigs working until end of 2025.

Drilling Activity and Discoveries

Karoon Energy has drilled PAT-2, the second of two production wells at the Patola field on licence BM-S-40 offshore Brazil. The wells PAT-1 and PAT-2 were drilled with Noble semisub Noble Developer (Maersk Developer) and both indicated net pay thickness in line with pre-drill expectations. PAT-2 was drilled to a total depth of 2,313 metres (7,588 ft). Karoon Energy will complete the two production wells and install a subsea pipeline and umbilicals from Patola to the Cidade de Itajaí FPSO, tying the wells into existing riser slots on the FPSO. First production from the Patola field is targeted to commence in the first quarter of 2023 with an expected plateau production rate of over 10,000 bopd. After work at Patola is completed, Karoon will move the 10,000-ft Noble Developer to the Neon field offshore Brazil to drill the first of a potential two Neon control wells, subject to regulatory approval. Karoon has the rig contracted through the first quarter of 2023, after which the rig is scheduled to work for Shell at the BC-10 field offshore Brazil.


PetroNor has decided to exercise its right to continue with the Petroleum, Exploration, Development and Production Licence Agreement (PEPLA) for the A4 licence in the Gambia. The operator and Gambia National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) also signed a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) for the A4 licence and the GNPC has been assigned a 10% participating interest. The terms of the PEPLA have been amended to allow the Company to phase commitments via an extended Initial Exploration Period of three years which is split into two phases of 18 months each. This allows time for additional de-risking technical work prior to commitment to exploration drilling in the second phase. Signature of the PEPLA commits the Company to a signature bonus of USD 1 million and a minimum work program of USD 1.5 million in the first 18-month phase. PetroNor will have the option to continue the licence after the first phase and commit to drilling a well in the following 18-month phase.

TotalEnergies has submitted an application to carry out exploration drilling on Block Deep Western Orange Basin (12/3/343 ER) offshore the west coast of South Africa. The company has proposed to drill one exploration well, with up to nine additional wells depending on success. The start date of this work is to be between the first to fourth quarter of 2024 and will use a semisubmersible or drillship. Water depths at the most likely prospect on the block are around 3,280 to 9,482 ft (1,000 to 3,000 m). TotalEnergies has submitted an application for environmental authorization for this drilling campaign.

Mobilisation/Rig Moves

TotalEnergies is expected to begin an appraisal program on the Venus discovery at Block 2913B offshore Namibia in the first quarter of 2023. This program will include the drilling of new appraisal wells and production flow tests and is to be carried out with Vantage Drilling 10,000-ft drillship Tungsten Explorer. TotalEnergies is following up on a discovery of light oil and associated gas at Venus announced in February 2022. The Venus 1-X well encountered around 84 meters of net oil pay. TotalEnergies is the operator of Block 2913B with a 40% interest. Tungsten Explorer has been working offshore Cyprus for Eni. Eni made a natural gas discovery at the Cronos-1 well in Block 6 offshore Cyprus in August 2022 and kept the rig on to drill a further well in order to investigate additional resources and development options. TotalEnergies has Tungsten Explorer under firm contract from the first to third quarter of 2023. Options available on the rig could keep it working with TotalEnergies into the fourth quarter of 2024.

Noble 350-ft jackup Noble Resolve (Maersk Resolve) has arrived in Port Esjberg to begin preparations for work with INEOS on a carbon dioxide (CO2) storage test in the Danish North Sea as part of Project Greensand. Project Greensand is a consortium of Danish and international companies working to develop the capacity to score CO2 in depleted oil and gas fields offshore Denmark. Under a 135-day rig contract with INEOS, Noble Resolve will move to the Nini West field for the Greensand pilot test. The rig is having equipment for CO2 storage installed while in Esjberg. During the pilot test, expected to begin at the end of the year, Noble Resolve will receive CO2 supplied from shore by a tanker. The CO2 will then be injected subsea from the rig. The pilot test itself is expected to take around three months. Following a successful pilot phase, Noble Corporation will hold a right to all drilling work involved in Project Greensand at market rate terms until the end of 2027. INEOS has Noble Resolve contracted into January 2024.

Valaris 400-ft jackup Valaris Stavanger has entered the yard in Dundee, Scotland to undergo its 10-year special period survey (SPS). The 2011-built harsh environment rig was released by Equinor in mid-November 2022 after completing a three-year campaign at the Gudrun field.

Other News

Equinor and its partners have submitted a plan for development and operation for the Irpa natural gas discovery in the Norwegian Sea. The development will have a total cost of NOK 14.8 billion. The Irpa discovery, formerly known as Asterix, was proven in 2009 and is in 4,430 ft (1,350 m) of water in the Vøring Basin. Equinor estimates expected recoverable gas resources at around 20 billion standard cubic metres (124 million BOE). The discovery will be developed with three wells and an 80-km pipeline to the Aasta Hansteen platform. The gas will be phased into existing infrastructure over Aasta Hansteen and transported to the Nyhamna gas processing plant via the Polarled pipeline. From there, gas will be transported via the Langeled pipeline system to customers. The field is scheduled to come on stream in the fourth quarter of 2026. There will be joint production from Irpa and Aasta Hansteen through 2031 and then Irpa is intended to continue to produce until 2039. Equinor is the operator with a 51% interest. Other partners include Wintershall DEA with 19%, Petoro with 20% and Shell with 10%.

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