Equinor Ties Up Transocean Rig Pair

The rigs will work in the Norwegian Sea and on the Johan Castberg field.

Semisubmersible Transocean Enabler.
Semisubmersible Transocean Enabler.

Equinor has awarded contracts for the use of semisubmersible drilling rigs Transocean Encourage and Transocean Enabler. The Encourage will mainly be used on a drilling campaign in the Norwegian Sea, while the Enabler will work in the Johan Castberg field.

The rigs have been on 8-year contracts with Equinor that expire on 1 December 2023 and 1 April 2024, respectively. This will be the first contract extension since the rigs were built, as so-called Cat D rigs, specialized for Norwegian conditions.

The drilling program in the Norwegian Sea comprises nine wells to be drilled on the Tyrihans, Verdande, Andvare, and Vigdis fields located in the Tampen area of the North Sea. Verdande and Andvare will be tied in to the Norne field. The drilling program also includes exploration wells, and may be further extended, adding six wells. The estimated total value of the nine wells is about $191 million, and the drilling campaign is expected to start on 1 December.

On the Johan Castberg field, the Transocean Enabler will have a fixed drilling program of 19 wells and options on another eight wells. The total contract value is estimated at $415 million, the fixed part accounting for $295 million. The new contract will come into effect between 1 April and 1 July 2024.

Equinor and Transocean have also signed a strategic collaboration agreement that, according to the operator, will drive improvements in technology and innovation related to safety, efficiency, and greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are now securing hot rigs, which we, together with Transocean, have already invested in upgrading, thus improving safety, reducing emissions, and increasing efficiency,” said Erik G. Kirkemo, senior vice president for drilling and well with Equinor.

“Operating for us for the past 8 years, we already know the rigs well. We therefore have a lot of experience to build on, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration delivering safe and efficient wells.”

The estimated contract values include drilling services such as casing running, wastewater treatment, cuttings management, and two remotely operated vehicles. The agreement with Transocean Enabler also includes wired drillpipe services.

Both rigs are 6th-generation fully winterized, harsh-environment semisubmersibles with automated drilling control specially designed for operations on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. In addition to these two rigs, Transocean Spitsbergen also has a contract with Equinor for the next few years.