Norwegian yard Westcon is set to complete winterisation of semi-submersible West Hercules in mid-March, ready for a frontier drilling effort for Statoil in the Barents Sea, as it makes room for a rush of rig upgrade work expected over the next few months.
A source at the yard confirmed to Upstream the schedule for completion of upgrade and winterisation work on the rig, owned by Seadrill subsidiary North Atlantic Drilling, amid doubts over the delivery date.
Delivery of the rig for the nine-well campaign, originally due to start in December, has been delayed due to the need for additional remedial work and regulatory non-conformities uncovered by Norway’s safety authority.
North Atlantic has previously said the semisub would be ready for Barents action by mid-February, while there have also been fears it would not be delivered until nearer the summer, further stalling the drilling effort.
However, the source said other technical issues have now been addressed and winterisation work on the work is progressing well.
A Statoil spokesman said there had been no change in the company’s revised schedule for drilling start-up in the first quarter.
Westcon meanwhile will see the arrival of four more rigs over the next three months for upgrade and modification work – Ocean Rig’s Leiv Eiriksson, North Atlantic’s West Alpha and West Phoenix, and Transocean Searcher.
Rig manager Malvin Eide said the yard, which mainly carries out upgrade and outfitting work, is set to carry out six to eight rig projects this year but the workload is set to increase over the next two years with an influx of around 20 newbuilds expected to be readied for work off Norway by 2015.
”There is continued high activity in the rig market – 2012 was a hectic year and there is no indication that this year will be any quieter,” he said.
The yard at Olen on Norway’s west coast has recently expanded its capacity to handle more rig work with the acquisition of the STX yard at Floro that will give it a bigger dock of 200 metres.
Westcon, which has handled a total of around 100 rig upgrades, has invested Nkr600 million in facilities at its Olen yard and now intends to spend another Nkr200 million on further expansion, including enlargement of its production hall.
It has also widened the sailing-in area at the newly acquired Floro yard to handle larger rigs.