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Statoil takes Seadrill rig off Canada

Statoil has taken a Seadrill semi-submersible drilling unit for a three-well programme off the east coast of Canada.

The Norwegian oil major is to drill the trio of exploration wells off Newfoundland with the ultra-deepwater unit West Aquarius, it said on Monday.

No contract value or dayrate was given for the deal which will see wells being spudded in late 2012 and 2013.

Oslo-listed Seadrill, which earlier in the day unveiled a strong first-quarter profit and an intention to continue to invest in new units, had not revealed details of the deal by Monday afternoon.

Two of the wells are in the Flemish Pass basin with the remaining one in the Jeanne d’Arc basin, Statoil said.

Seadrill’s latest fleet list published in its first-quarter report on Monday shows the West Aquarius is on long-term contract to ExxonMobil in Southeast Asia from February 2009 to June 2015.

However, a separate fleet status report on its website shows the unit is on charter to the US supermajor until just September 2012 at $526,000 a day.

Seadrill elsewhere on its site lists the rig’s current location as off Canada with ExxonMobil holding a contract extension option until June 2017.

Nobody was immediately available for comment at Seadrill.

In late September 2008 Seadrill completed a $1.7 billion sale-and-leaseback deal with Ship Finance International (SFI), one of the shipping companies of Seadrill chairman John Fredriksen, involving the West Hercules and another unit, the West Taurus. (Click here to read the full story in Upstream's sister publication, TradeWinds.)

The units were sold to SFI and leased back for 15 years. Seadrill was at the time given five re-purchase options on the West Hercules, the first of which would come after three years at $580 million.

Seadrill said in late February that is was chasing almost $10 million from South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering following the late delivery of the West Aquarius and a sister unit, West Hercules.

The shipbuilder had coughed up $22.9 million in an arbitration case but Seadrill is seeking to claw back “liquidated damages” which it says arose from the late deliveries.