The market for semi-submersible rigs in the North Sea is fast becoming sold out with an undersupply expected on the back of expected higher exploration activity over the next two years.

Norway has already seen a significant rise in demand for harsh-environment rigs that has fuelled dayrates and a similar trend is now being seen off the UK as tender activity increases, Fred Olsen Energy’s senior business development advisor Ingolf Gillesdal told an Oslo rig seminar.

He expects six new rigs to be added to the active floater fleet off Norway by the middle of next year, taking the tally up to 18 units, with four rigs to be added off the UK to give a similar fleet figure.