Statoil Inks Deal with Ocean Rig for Barents Sea Drilling

A letter of intent worth about NOK 310 million for the drilling of three wells in the Barents Sea has been signed with Ocean Rig by Statoil and Norsk Hydro.

The contract value includes the cost of mobilization and upgrading to work in these far northern waters, including requirements for winterization and zero discharges to the sea. There is also an option for the drilling of a well in the North Sea for Norsk Hydro prior to the Barents Sea program.

Plans call for the first well to be spudded this autumn, with the actual drilling campaign due to last for about 135 days. In addition to yard stays and mobilization/demobilization. The upgrade work calls for adding four anchors to upgrade the selected rig to a full 8 point anchoring system (in addition to its dynamic positioning system).

Either Eirik Raude or Leiv Eiriksson will be used. Both rigs were built in 1999 to the Bingo 9000 design and are specially constructed to work in harsh-weather areas.

Statoil will be operator for two of the wells, with one being drilled in production license 202 or in seismic area F, and the other in seismic area G. Hydro plans a well in seismic area C.

"We're hoping to find both gas and oil," says Orjan Birkeland, Statoil's exploration manager for northern Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea.

"Possible gas resources can be piped to the liquefaction plant under construction at Melkoya outside Hammerfest."

The letter of intent is conditional on the wells being sanctioned by the partners concerned and by the Norwegian authorities.

The Eirik Raude is currently working offshore Canada for EnCana and the Leiv Eriksson is currently working offshore Angola for BP.