Stena Drilling Plans Rig Upgrade to 20K Capabilities

Enhancement to the drillship comes ahead of work commitment on Shell's Sparta development in the US Gulf of Mexico, its first in the Gulf to produce from 20K reservoirs.

Drillship Stena Evolution received a 5-year drilling commitment from Shell last year. The contract is due to begin during the second quarter.
SOURCE: Stena Drilling

Stena Drilling will upgrade its 7th-generation drillship Stena Evolution to handle drilling and completing wells that require 20,000-psi (20K) pressure control. The drillship is already equipped to handle a wide range of drilling operations, including exploration, development, and production activities in offshore oil and gas fields worldwide. According to the rig owner, upgrading the vessel for 20K operations will enable Stena Drilling to remain in the forefront of technological advancement in the drilling industry.

Stena Drilling, together with equipment supplier NOV, and Shell, will start the installation of the 20K subsea blowout preventer and other key equipment in 2026. When this new 20K equipment package is installed, the Stena Evolution will be able to perform completion operations in the Sparta field on behalf of Shell in the US Gulf of Mexico (GOM). Initially, Sparta will support eight oil-and-gas-producing wells.

Shell awarded a 5-year contract to Stena for use of the drillship last May. The term is due to start during the second quarter of this year. The contract includes an extension option upon completion of the primary term.

“We are very excited and proud to announce the 20K equipment upgrade for the Stena Evolution,” said Erik Rønsberg, CEO at Stena Drilling. “This investment reinforces our dedication to innovation within the offshore drilling sector and our commitment to delivering top-tier drilling services to our clients. It also reflects our full dedication and focus to the highest standards of safety and environmental responsibility.”

Shell took its final investment decision on Sparta last December and will utilize a floating production unit design that closely replicates the 100,000 B/D Vito and Whale units. According to Shell, Sparta replicates about 95% of Whale’s hull and 85% of Whale’s topsides. Sparta also marks Shell’s first development in the GOM to produce from 20K reservoirs.

Sparta is expected to reach a peak production of approximately 90,000 BOED and has an estimated, discovered recoverable resource volume of 244 million BOE. Sparta is scheduled to begin production in 2028.

Shell operates Sparta with a 51% working interest. Partner Equinor holds the remaining 49% stake.