John Fredriksen’s rig investment company Northern Drilling has exercised its option for newbuild drillship Cobalt Explorer from South Korean yard DSME.
Northern Drilling is paying $350m for the drillship and delivery is flexible through to the end of the first quarter of 2021.
Cobalt Explorer was originally ordered by Vantage Drilling and terminated in 2015. Northern Drilling picked up the $350m option in May 2018, at the same time it agreed to acquire drillship pair West Aquila and West Libra for $296m each.
Scott McReaken, CEO of Norther Drilling, commented: “With the Cobalt Explorer acquisition, Northern Drilling continues to execute on our strategy and adds to our premium fleet of Tier 1 drillships, all acquired at a substantial discount to replacement cost. The company’s two harsh environment rigs were acquired on a similar forward delivery basis and we have successfully secured contracts with premium operators at leading day rates in the North Sea. The deepwater market is showing clear signs of a recovery providing increased confidence our drillships will continue to appreciate in value and secure attractive contracts by their delivery in 2021.”
The company also announced that Wintershall has exercised the fourth and final front end option for West Mira, bringing the commencement of operations forward into mid quarter three 2019.