Global deepwater drilling continued its slow ascent, climbing to 110 floaters, up one unit week-on-week and an 11% jump in less than two months, according to Westwood Global Energy’s RigLogix
Over the past seven weeks, the number of contracted floaters has grown from 99 active units in week 31 to 110 in week 38. Africa showed a positive gain of one unit to six floaters, while offshore drilling activity in the North Sea and South America remained stable.
By contrast, global jack-up drilling activity fell by three units week-on-week. Overall there were 320 jack-ups under contract, with both North Sea and southeast Asia slipping, while the Middle East remained steady at 117 units.
The price of Brent crude continued its downward slope, closing at US$39.66 per barrel on 14 September. Since 1 September when it closed at US$45.76, Brent crude has lost 13% of its value, reflecting continuing concerns over a second wave of coronavirus outbreaks.
For the Norwegian continental shelf, Equinor has secured the GustoMSC design jack-up Noble Lloyd Noble under a three-well contract for June 2021 to January 2022. Drilling contractor Noble reported the contract in its latest fleet status report. Among the other events reported by Noble was a reduction of the dayrate for the Friede Goldman JU2000E jack-up drill rig Noble Roger Lewis to US$139,000 from 1 April 2020 to 31 December 2021. Noble Roger Lewis is under contract to Saudi Aramco for work in the Middle East Gulf until early March 2022.
In the Americas, Noble secured a new six-month contract for Gusto P10000 drill ship Noble Sam Croft with Esso to drill in Guyana from early January 2021 to early July 2021.
Pemex contract for Dolphin
In Mexico, state-owned oil company Pemex has signed a US$83M contract with Aberdeen-based Dolphin Drilling to deploy its semi-submersible Blackford Dolphin for about 15 months, commencing operations in October.
Dolphin Drilling chief executive Bjørnar Iversen said the ability to mobilise Blackford Dolphin quickly was a key in winning the contract, calling the rig “one of the most efficient moored semi-submersibles on the market, providing a reduction of the CO2 emissions associated with drilling due to its low fuel consumption and high drilling performance.”
Mr Iversen sees Mexico as an important market for Dolphin Drilling’s moored semi-submersibles.
Rebuilt in 2008, Blackford Dolphin has a sixth-generation topside and can operate in water from 70 to 1,700 m moored.
Trump extends Florida offshore drilling ban
In the US, President Trump extended the moratorium on offshore drilling off the Atlantic coast of Florida and expanded the ban to cover the states of Georgia and South Carolina. A Congressionally imposed moratorium prohibits offshore drilling off of Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts until 2022. The President’s actions extended the ban an additional 10 years to 20 June 2032.
Offshore drilling is a major concern of Florida, a major tourism destination. Its beaches and natural resources suffered significant damage during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The move did not please US energy interests. In a statement, National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) president Eric Milito said, “Limiting access to our offshore energy resources only shortchanges America and dulls our national outlook.”
Offshore drilling in the US Gulf of Mexico remained at 15 active rigs, the same as last week, and 10 below the same period in 2019, according to Baker Hughes.
This week weather forecasters expect the US Gulf to be faced with the threat of ‘extreme life-threatening flash flooding’ when Hurricane Sally makes landfall in southeastern Louisiana.