Australia’s FAR Limited has contracted the ultra-deepwater drillship Ocean Rig Athena for exploration drilling in offshore Senegal at a reduced charter rate.
The Ocean Rig-owned vessel commenced a three-year charter to ConocoPhillips in June 2014. The company’s drilling unit will conduct the work as part of a joint venture in Senegal in which ConocoPhillips has a 35% interest, FAR Limited has 15%, Petrosen has 10% and the project’s operator Cairn Energy has 40%.
FAR said rates for the drillship had “been adjusted downwards to reflect prevailing market conditions”. The company did not disclose what it will pay for the ship’s services, but said day rates for deepwater drilling units offshore Africa have dropped by up to 50% over the past year or so.
“These reduced rates are expected to allow the drilling and testing program to be completed for a heavily reduced cost in comparison to what was envisaged 12 months ago under a higher oil price environment,” FAR said.
Three wells will be drilled by the vessel, which are expected to be completed by mid-2016. Two appraisal wells will be drilled at the SNE-1 block, where FAR made a significant oil discovery in December 2014, plus a coring and testing programme.
In addition, a shelf exploration well will be drilled to further evaluate the shelf area prospectivity. This well (BEL-1) will be used to assess whether a resource base can be built within tie-back range of a possible future hub development at the SNE field.
“When this modern drillship is combined with the experience gained from drilling the FAN-1 and SNE-1 discovery wells and the capabilities of the ConocoPhillips drilling organisation, we expect to deliver very efficient Senegal drilling operations,” FAR’s managing director Cath Norman said in a release.
“In addition, the joint venture has been able to take advantage of reduced deepwater rig rates and has secured the rig for a firm three wells and options for an additional three wells in the event of success.”