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Statoil takes aim at Tanzania probe

Norwegian giant set to spud offshore well within months after tying up Ocean Rig drillship contract

Statoil is gearing up to spud a well off Tanzania within months after nailing down a drilling contract with Greek owner Ocean Rig.

The Norwegian state-controlled player has taken the drillship Ocean Rig Poseidon for a one-well job off the East African nation, where large gas discoveries have been made, as well as in neighbouring Mozambique.

Ocean Rig said the contract is set to begin in the first quarter, but did not give any day rate or specify if Statoil has any extension options over the unit, which is coming off contract with Italian major Eni off Angola.

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Upstream reported in July that Statoil entered the market for a range of equipment and services related to the drilling of a commitment well in Block 2 off Tanzania. A spokesman at the time said the commitment well was an exploration probe, but could not add any further details.

The company said the expressions of interest were for “the short duration drilling of a single well required by our licence”.

Five lots were offered to the market covering offshore support vessels, supply base and logistics services, drilling services, fuel supply as well as crew change and medevac services. Responses were due to be with Statoil by 21 July.

Statoil operates Block 2 on 65%, with US supermajor ExxonMobil on 35%. Since starting its exploration programme on the 500-square-kilometre tract, 13 wells have been drilled in waters of between 2400 and 2600 metres deep, yielding eight discoveries. One of the largest was Piri-1, with 2 trillion to 3 trillion cubic feet of gas in place. In total there is 22 Tcf of gas in place on the block.

Also on Friday, Ocean Rig revealed that Swedish independent Lundin Petroleum has declared its fifth option on the semi-submersible Leiv Eiriksson.

The extension will see the contract run to about March.

Ocean Rig has also given Lundin two more extension options. If all seven remaining one-well options are taken up, the oil company will have the unit until mid-2019.

Lundin has just in the past week started drilling at its Barents Sea Hufsa prospect with the semisub, seeking more resources near the Filicudi discovery made earlier this year.