BP has accelerated plans to drill a wildcat on a huge prospect offshore eastern Canada after its chosen drillship was released from an existing contract earlier than expected.

The supermajor had been aiming to spud a highly anticipated deep-water probe on the multi-billion-barrel Ephesus structure in Newfoundland & Labrador sometime between May and October, but the drilling operation could now start as soon as next month.

BP chartered Stena Drilling’s harsh environment drillship the Stena IceMax for the operation in Canada and this rig has just completed a two-well exploration campaign for CNOOC Ltd offshore Gabon.