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This week, new contract awards were secured by Shelf Drilling, Dolphin Drilling, and Valaris. Meanwhile, Aker BP renewed its drilling and wells alliance agreements with Noble Corporation, Odfjell Drilling, and Halliburton and Shell found gas in the Pensacola well in the UK North Sea.

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

Contracts & tenders

Petrobras is tendering for a floating rig for work off Colombia starting in April 2024. Sources advise the term is for 400 days plus a 400-day option. This is likely to develop the natural gas discovery Petrobras made in 2022. Transocean’s 10,000-ft semisub Development Driller III drilled the Uchuva discovery well in about 2,723 ft of water. Development Driller III is currently working for TotalEnergies off Suriname. The operator recently exercised one of its one-well options for the rig, which should keep it busy until July 2023. One more one-well option is still available.

Shelf Drilling has received a three-year contract award for the Trident II jackup rig with Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) for operations in Mumbai High, offshore India. The rig will continue operations in direct continuation of its current contract following an out of service period in preparation for the new three-year award. In December 2022, Shelf secured three-year contract awards with ONGC for two of its jackup rigs. This was also for operations in Mumbai High, offshore India.

Dolphin Drilling’s 7,000-ft semisubmersible Blackford Dolphin has signed a letter of award with an undisclosed operator offshore Nigeria, which will be in direct continuation of the rig’s upcoming contract with General Hydrocarbon Limited (GHL). The letter of award has the potential to extend the rig’s backlog by a minimum of 120 days and up to 485 days, in addition to the existing GHL backlog. The effective dayrate with the minimum firm period of this award is $325,000, including the mobilization fee. Fixed in October 2022, the rig’s previously announced contract with GHL offshore Nigeria is now to begin in February 2023. This contract has a total value of $96 million and is for 12 months, though GHL has the right to shorten the contract to up to six months. More here

Shelf Drilling has secured a one-year contract extension for the 300-ft jackup Trident 16 in direct continuation of its current term with Belayim Petroleum Company (Petrobel). The contract is for operations in the Gulf of Suez offshore Egypt and it includes a further one-year option period. The Trident 16 has been working with Petrobel in Belayim fields since 2015 and, following this extension, the expected availability of the rig is February 2024.

Aker BP has entered into drilling and wells alliance agreements with Noble Corporation, Odfjell Drilling, and Halliburton. Over the last five years, the Jackup Rig Alliance and the Semi Rig Alliance delivered over 100 wells on the Norwegian shelf and these new agreements will see them deliver even more wells in the upcoming five-year period. The jackup alliance comprises Noble, Halliburton, and Aker BP while the semi alliance comprises Odfjell Drilling, Halliburton, and Aker BP. On 11 January, Aker BP signed new agreements for both alliances with a five-year contract term. The two rig alliances have delivered more than 100 wells, drilled over 450 kilometres, and carried out almost 80 completions and 35 plug and abandonment operations during the first alliance period. More here

Valaris has secured more work for its jackup rigs in the UK North Sea and Gulf of Mexico. The company has also won more work for a drillship in Brazil. Two one-year options have been exercised by Harbour Energy in the UK North Sea for the 400-ft heavy-duty harsh environment jackup Valaris 120. The first option period is expected to start in July 2023 in direct continuation of the existing contract. This will keep the rig busy with Harbour until July 2025. One-well contract with Petrofac in the UK North Sea has been awarded to the 400-ft heavy duty harsh environment jackup Valaris 121. The contract is expected to begin early in the third quarter 2023 and has an estimated duration of 70-100 days. After that, the rig is scheduled to begin its 210-day contract with Shell in the UK North Sea. More here

Drilling Activity and Discoveries

BW Energy has started drilling the first production well on the Hibiscus / Ruche Phase 1 development in the Dussafu Block offshore Gabon. Drilling operations began in line with the target of producing the first oil in March 2023. Borr’s 400-ft Norve jackup arrived on location in late December and immediately started preparations for the drilling campaign. The first production well, DHIBM-3H, targets the Gamba sandstone reservoir on the Hibiscus field and is expected to take just over two months to drill and complete. Installation of flexible pipelines and risers, completing the 20-kilometre connection between the BW MaBoMo production facility and the FPSO BW Adolo, was also finalised last week. The initial Hibiscus / Ruche Phase 1 drilling campaign targets the Hibiscus and Ruche fields which are expected to add approximately 30,000 barrels per day of total oil production when all wells are completed in early 2024.

Tailwind has completed its drilling operations on the Gannet E development well, 21/30c-29 (GE-04), which is located in the UK North Sea. The well was managed and operated by Petrofac on behalf of Tailwind, using the 1,640-ft Stena Don rig. Tailwind says that the well results are above the pre-drill expectation and initial flow rates are expected to exceed 8,000 barrels of oil per day when production comes online. Rig demobilisation operations are in the process of completing with the Stena Don expected to be off location by the 10th of January 2023. GE-04 has been temporarily suspended and will be tied into the Triton FPSO in Q1 2023. Tailwind is the 100% owner of the Gannet E field and a 46.42% owner of the Triton FPSO. The company plans to drill another well on the Gannet E field, the GE-05, in 2024.

Trillion Energy has added three new sidetrack wells to its development program at the SASB gas field offshore Turkiye. GSP’s 333-ft jackup GSP Uranus is being used for this drilling program, which began in September 2022. The three new sidetracks bring Trillion Energy’s planned number of wells for the SASB development program to 20, with 11 of these to be drilled in 2023. Trillion stated that its sidetracks and workovers at the field take around 10 to 30 days, versus 45 to 48 days for a new well. The company anticipates similar production volumes from the added sidetracks compared to other new wells planned in the drilling program.

Shell has encountered gas in the Pensacola well reservoir and now plans to undertake a full well testing programme to evaluate its commerciality. Shell is the operator of the Pensacola exploration well 41/05a-2 on Licence P2252 located in the UK Southern North Sea. Shell has a 65% interest and its partners Deltic Energy and ONE-Dyas have 30% and 5% interests, respectively. The well was spud on 21 November 2022 using the 350-ft Maersk Resilient (Noble Resilient) jackup rig. The full well test will be undertaken to evaluate the commerciality of the Pensacola prospect and update the geological model. The well testing is expected to take approximately 30 days.


Angolan private oil and gas company Sociedade Petrolifera Angolana SA (Somoil) has acquired a 20% stake in Block 14 offshore Angola after obtaining financing from an international bank. The agreement was first announced in January 2022. Somoil acquired the interest via acquiring Angola Block 13 BV, which was jointly owned by TotalEnergies and Inpex. Block 14 is offshore Cabinda, Angola and has been producing since 1999. It is operated by Cabinda Gulf Oil Company (Chevron) with a 31% interest. Other stakeholders in the block include Sonangol with 20%, Eni with 20% and Galp Energia with 9%.

The Norwegian government has offered ownership interests to 25 companies in a total of 47 production licences on the Norwegian shelf as part of the awards in predefined areas (APA) 2022. Of the 47 production licences, 29 are in the North Sea, 16 in the Norwegian Sea, and 2 in the Barents Sea. 20 of the production licences are additional acreage for existing production licences. Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Terje Aasland, said that further exploration activity and new discoveries are important to maintain the production of oil and gas over time, both for Norway and Europe. Full list of winners here

The Ministry of Water and Mines of the Republic of Benin has awarded Zenith Energy a three-month period of exclusivity to negotiate and finalise terms for a production sharing contract for Block-1 offshore the West African nation. Zenith submitted an offer for Block-1 in September 2022. The 551 sq. km shallow water Block-1 offshore Benin contains the Sèmè field. The last commercial production from the field took place in 1998. A new field, Sèmè North, was discovered in 2015 with an estimated 100 million barrels of oil in place but deemed non-commercial at the time due to oil prices. Zenith stated that Block-1 is a “transformational development opportunity” for the company due to its unexploited potential and existing field infrastructure.

Mobilisation/Rig Moves

Noble’s 10,000-ft semisub Noble Discoverer (ex-Maersk Discoverer) has finished its assignment with Shell off Trinidad and Tobago. The rig has departed for its next job off Guyana with CGX Energy. Operations are expected to last into April 2023. The rig is then available for charter, although industry sources reveal the rig has been offered for other jobs in the Americas.

Well-Safe Solutions’ 1,200-ft semisub Well-Safe Defender will begin work with Spirit Energy in the first quarter of 2023, following the completion of the final phase of plug and abandonment (P&A) specific upgrades on the rig. Well-Safe Defender secured this 14-well P&A contract in July 2022, shortly after Well-Safe Solutions acquired the rig from Awilco Drilling. It was previously known as the WilPhoenix. The contract with Spirit Energy will be Well-Safe Defender’s first job as a specialized decommissioning rig.

Other News

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for two upcoming Gulf of Mexico leases sales – Sale 259 and Sale 261. This step complies with the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Based on feedback following a 45-day public comment period that began on 6 October 2022, the Final Supplemental EIS includes an expanded greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis and provides an analysis of monetised impacts from these estimated GHG emissions. The Inflation Reduction Act requires that Sale 259 be held no later than 31 March 2023 and Sale 261 no later than 30 September 2023. The Notice of Availability will be published in the Federal Register on 13 January 2023.

Orcadian Energy has entered into a non-binding Heads of Agreement with Rapid Oil Production to dispose of interests in its non-core Crinan and Dandy discoveries in the UK North Sea. Crinan straddles the boundary between 21/28a, Orcadian’s block, and 21/28b, Rapid Oil’s block, whilst Dandy lies entirely within 21/28a. Rapid is progressing the development of the nearby Fyne field, with the intention of achieving field development plan (FDP) approval in 2023, and could bring Crinan into production as part of the Fyne cluster in phase two or three of the field development. This could potentially be followed by a Dandy tie-back via Fyne. Rapid is currently planning the development of the Fyne field as a tie-back to the Triton FPSO operated by Dana Petroleum. More here


Image credit: Dolphin Drilling

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