Rig: Polar Pioneer

Name Polar Pioneer
Owner Triton Nautilus Asset Leasing GmbH
Manager Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc.
Rig Type Semisub
Sub Type Midwater Floater
Jackup Type --
Max Water Depth (ft) 1640
Max Drill Depth (ft) 25000
Dimensions (ft) 279 x 233 x 137
Leg Length (ft) --
Competitive Yes

Current Location

Country Norway
Region NWECS

Drilling Equipment

Drawworks Type --
Drawworks HP --
Mud Pumps Type Continental Emsco FB-1600 Triplex
Top Drive Aker Maritime Hydraulics DDM-650
Hookload Capacity (lbs) 1300000

Rig Construction Details

Rig Design Sonat/Hitachi
Rig Model Polar
Year Built 1985
Country of Build Japan
Yard Name Ariake Shipyard
Group Yard Name Hitachi Zosen Corporation

Rig Contract Details

Operating Status Cold Stacked
Operator --

Rig Images


28 Dec 2015

Transocean Ltd. Announces Customer Early Termination of Polar Pioneer Contract

Transocean Ltd. announced today that Shell has elected to terminate the contract for the harsh environment semisubmersible Polar Pioneer prior to its expiration in July 2017. Transocean will be compensated for the early termination through a lump-sum payment that includes adjustments for reduced operating costs and demobilization to Norway.

28 Sep 2015

Shell suspends Alaskan exploration plan

Shell today provided an update on the Burger J exploration well, located in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea. The Burger J well is approximately 150 miles from Barrow, Alaska, in about 150 feet of water. Shell safely drilled the well to a total depth of 6,800 feet this summer in a basin that demonstrates many of the key attributes of a major petroleum basin. For an area equivalent to half the size of the Gulf of Mexico, this basin remains substantially under-explored. Shell has found indications of oil and gas in the Burger J well, but these are not sufficient to warrant further exploration in the Burger prospect. The well will be sealed and abandoned in accordance with U.S. regulations. Shell will now cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future. This decision reflects both the Burger J well result, the high costs associated with the project, and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska. Whether the cessation of drilling activities means that both the Polar Pioneer and Noble Discoverer rigs will be released from their current contracts is not yet clear.

1 Apr 2011

Major oil discovery in the Barents Sea

Statoil, along with partners Eni Norway and Petoro, has made a significant oil discovery on the Skrugard prospect in the Barents Sea. The breakthrough discovery is one of the most important finds on the Norwegian continental shelf in the last decade. Statoil and its partners are in the process of concluding drilling operations on the Skrugard prospect, which is located approximately 100 kilometres north of the Snøhvit gas field in the Barents Sea. The well was drilled with the Polar Pioneer rig, and has proven gas column of 33 metres and an oil column of 90 metres. The oil is anticipated to be easily producible. The estimated volume of the discovery is between 150–250 million recoverable barrels of oil equivalent (boe), while Statoil sees opportunities for further upside in the license of up to 250 million barrels – for a potential total of 500 million boe. “The Skrugard find is significant and a break-through for frontier exploration in the Barents Sea. This opens a new oil province that can provide additional resource growth,” says Tim Dodson, executive vice president for Exploration in Statoil. He emphasises that it is too early to say something concrete about the total potential of the area, but ventures to characterise the Skrugard find as the most important exploration event on the Norwegian continental shelf in the last decade. The discovery is vital in order to maintain the technology and technical environments in the oil and gas industry in Norway in the future. Statoil has plans for both the drilling of a new prospect in the same license next year, and a possible appraisal drilling at Skrugard. The Skrugard prospect was Statoil's first priority in the 20th licensing round on the Norwegian continental shelf, which was awarded in April 2009. Over the course of the spring the Norwegian government will allocate acreage in the 21st licensing round. Acreage in areas nearby Skrugard is expected to be assigned during the round. Drilling operations have been conducted in a safe, efficient and environmentally friendly manner. Several core samples have been taken in order to understand reservoir properties, and some data collection in the well still remains. In total there have been over 80 wells drilled in the southern Barents Sea, and Statoil has been the operator for more than 60 of these. The Snøhvit gas field, which is operated by Statoil, is the only field centre established so far in the Barents Sea, while Eni's Goliat field is under development. “The Barents Sea is large, and we can not say that we have cracked the code for the entire area yet. But we have confirmed that our exploration model is correct. This is a break-through, and an important step in understanding how the geology – and thus the hydrocarbon systems in the Barents Sea – works,” says Dodson. “If the volume estimates are confirmed, then this discovery could provide a basis for an independent development. Given that it takes between five to 10 years from discovery to production, we are planning for the future now. Our ambition is to put this find into production as quickly as possible,” he adds. Statoil is the operator of license 532 with a 50% share. The license partners are Eni (30%) and Petoro (20%).

22 Oct 2010

All set for new exploration wells in the Barents Sea

“Having tested our oil spill preparedness plans ahead of the imminent drilling operations in the Barents Sea, we can now confirm that they perform as planned,” says Knut Harald Nygård, Statoil’s new exploration manager for the Barents Sea. The three operators, Statoil, Eni and Lundin, together with NOFO (Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies) and local task forces jointly planned and carried out an extensive oil spill response drill on Sørøya in West Finnmark. “We’re very experienced when it comes to exploration in the Barents Sea and are keen to test out our emergency response plans before embarking on a new exploration campaign with Eni and Lundin. It’s important to ensure that the cooperation between the companies, NOFO and local task forces works really well before we commence drilling. We are pleased to have achieved our goals for the drill,” says Nygård. Drill leader Torun Måseide states that all planned drill elements were carried out and that the companies involved are satisfied with the results. “We have verified that we meet all requirements in our emergency plans,” says Måseide. In addition to four NOFO ocean going collection systems, consisting of a total 11 vessels with containment booms and collection devices, the Norwegian Coastal Administration and inter-municipal oil spill protection agency in Mid and North Troms supplied personnel and resources for cleaning up the oil along the coast. The three operator companies will shortly commence four exploration wells in the Barents Sea, the first of which will be drilled by Eni. Statoil will then drill two wells and Lundin one, the first exploration wells drilled in the Barents Sea since 2008. The mobile rig Polar Pioneer will be used on all of them.

11 Aug 2009

Drilling in Tornerose

Statoil has started drilling an appraisal well in the Tornerose prospect in the Barents Sea. The Polar Pioneer rig commenced drilling on Thursday 10 August. The well is being drilled to assess the extent of the petroleum reserves in the prospect. "This appraisal well is important," says Tim Dodson, senior vice president for exploration in Statoil’s Exploration & Production Norway business area. "It will enable us to prove gas which can strengthen the basis for a possible expansion of the Hammerfest LNG plant on Melkøya." Tornerose lies about 55 kilometres east of Snøhvit and 125 kilometres north-west of Hammerfest. Water depth in the area is just over 400 metres. The drilling operations are expected to take about 40 days. Statoil is operator of Tornerose with a 33.53% holding. The other licensees are Petoro (30%), Total E&P Norge (18.40%), Gaz de France Norge (12%), Amerada Hess Norge (3.26%) and RWE Dea Norge (2.81%).

9 Mar 2009

New discovery near existing infrastructure

Oil and gas have been encountered by StatoilHydro in the Katla prospect, which lies 11 kilometres south-west of the Oseberg South platform operated by the group in the Norwegian North Sea. Proven recoverable volumes are 50-80 million barrels of oil equivalent, with the bulk of the resources occupying the Tarbert formation in the upper Brent group. Oil and gas were found in this structure, while gas was also proven in Upper Jurassic reservoir rocks belonging to the Heather formation. “We’ve had great success with exploration close to producing fields over the past year,” says Tove Stuhr Sjøblom, head of exploration for the Norwegian continental shelf. “This is another discovery which confirms that it’s still possible to find relatively large volumes of oil and gas in established areas such as Oseberg.” The find will probably be developed and produced through a tie-in to one of the existing subsea installations in this part of the North Sea. “Given that it lies close to an existing field and can quickly be brought on stream, this is a very interesting volume,” says Tom Dreyer, head of North Sea infrastructure-led exploration. “The discovery is a good deal larger than we usually find in wells close to existing fields.” Although the discovery has not been tested, extensive data gathering and coring have been carried out. “Discoveries like this are important for maximising the recovery of resources from the NCS, because they help to extend the production life of installations,” says Ms Sjøblom. Apart from StatoilHydro as operator with 49.3%, licensees in production licence 104 are ConocoPhillips with 2.4%, ExxonMobil with 4.7%, Petoro with 33.6% and Total with 10%.

5 Dec 2008

Nucula discovery in the Barents Sea delineated

StatoilHydro has completed the drilling of an exploration well on the Nucula discovery, which is located around 110 kilometres east-northeast of the Goliat discovery in the Barents Sea. The purpose of exploration well 7125/4-2 in the StatoilHydro-operated production licence 393 was to delineate the Nucula oil and gas discovery from early 2007, and to explore another segment of the structure. The well confirmed a small oil column in sandstone of the Triassic age. The oil-bearing layers were thin, but showed good production properties. It is too early to reach a conclusion on the size of Nucula. Preliminary calculations would suggest that the resource basis lies in the lower region of the original estimation which was 6-12 million standard cubic metres of oil equivalent. "We will now evaluate the size of the find and further development opportunities for Nucula," says StatoilHydro's head of exploration activities in the far north, Geir Richardsen. The exploration well was not formation tested, but data has been gathered to be able to evaluate the size and extent of the find. The well was concluded in early Triassic rocks at a vertical depth of 1,727 metres below sea level. Water depth at the location was 294 metres. The well has been permanently plugged and abandoned. This is the second well in production licence 393, which was awarded in the 19th licensing round in 2006. The partners in the Nucula licence are: StatoilHydro (operator) (30%), ENI Norge (30%), BG Norge AS (20%) and Petoro (20%). The drilling was carried out by the semi-submersible Polar Pioneer drilling rig, which is moving to production licence 228 to drill delineation well 7223/5-1 (Obesum 2) operated by StatoilHydro.

31 Oct 2008

New discovery in the Barents Sea

StatoilHydro has confirmed the presence of hydrocarbons in an exploration well in the Caurus prospect in the Barents Sea, 160 kilometres north-northwest of Hammerfest in North Norway. The well was drilled in block 7222/11 in production licence 228. The purpose of the well was to confirm hydrocarbons in sandstone of middle and late Triassic age. The drilling in Caurus was carried out by the Polar Pioneer drilling rig at a water depth of 356 metres. Polar Pioneer will now start drilling appraisal well 7125/4-2 in the StatoilHydro operated production licence 393. Exploration well7222/11-1 S was drilled to a total depth of 2825 metres below sea level and was concluded in rocks of early Triassic age. The well is now being temporarily plugged and abandoned. Production licence 228 was awarded in the Barents Sea project in 1997, when Saga Petroleum ASA was operator. Well 7222/11-1 (Caurus) is the second exploration well in the licence. The first exploration well, 7222/6-1, was drilled in January-February 2008 and confirmed hydrocarbons in the Obesum structure in the far northern part of the licence. Another exploration well in the licence has been scheduled, which will be a delineation of the Obesum discovery scheduled for start-up in December 2008.

22 Aug 2008

Gas discovery in the Barents Sea

StatoilHydro Petroleum AS, as operator of exploration licence 394, has completed drilling of exploration well 7224/6-1 in the Barents Sea. The well was tested in a prospect called Arenaria in block 7224/6. The primary goal was to prove hydrocarbons in sandstone of early Jurassic to late Triassic age. The secondary goal was to prove hydrocarbons in rocks of the middle Triassic age. In the primary exploration target, rocks of good reservoir quality were found in accordance with the prognoses. No hydrocarbons were proven. In the secondary drilling target, gas was proven in reservoir rocks of poor quality. "The well was not formation tested and it is too early to tell if the gas can be produced," says Bente Fotland, exploration manager for licences in the far north. This is the first well to be drilled in exploration licence 394 which was awarded in the 19th license round in 2006. The well was an obligation well. It was drilled to a vertical depth of 2315 metres below sea level and was completed in rocks of middle Triassic age. The well is now being permanently plugged and abandoned. Drilling of exploration well 7224/6-1 was completed by the Polar Pioneer drilling unit at a water depth of 265 metres. Polar Pioneer will now start drilling exploration well 7222/11-1 in the StatoilHydro-operated exploration licence 228. The licensees in exploration licence 394 are: StatoilHydro (65%), Gaz de France Norge AS (20%) and Petoro (15%).

4 Jul 2008

Gas discovery in the Barents Sea

StatoilHydro has confirmed the existence of gas in the Ververis prospect in the Barents Sea, whereas an exploration well in the Stetind prospect in the Norwegian Sea turned out to be dry. ”It is of course promising that we have discovered gas, but the drilling was performed in a relatively complex formation. We therefore need to perform more analyses and evaluations in order to determine the resource potential of the discovery,” says Bente Fotland at StatoilHydro’s Harstad office. Ververis is the first well in production licence 395, which was awarded in the 19th licensing round in 2006. “The licence was awarded in April 2006, and seismic data were shot during the summer of 2006. The entire project was in fact completed sooner than expected,” Fotland says. The well was drilled to a vertical depth of 2992 metres below the sea surface and completed in the lower Triassic Havert formation. The well will now be permanently plugged and abandoned. Polar Pioneer will move on to drill exploration well 7224/6-1 in production licence 394, operated by StatoilHydro. The licensees in production licence 395 are: StatoilHydro ASA (operator) (50 prosent), BG Norge AS (30 prosent), Petoro AS (20 prosent).

16 May 2008

Tornerose wells completed

StatoilHydro has completed the drilling of two appraisal wells at the Tornerose gas discovery in the Barents Sea. No new find was made. StatoilHydro, the operator of production licence 110 C, has completed the drilling of appraisal wells 7123/4-1 S and 7123/4-1 A. The latter well was sidetracked from the S well. The purpose of the wells was to confirm the existence of resources in Triassic sandstones within previously untested segments on the Tornerose structure. The appraisal wells were drilled to a vertical depth of 2683 metres and 2603 metres respectively under the sea surface and completed in Triassic rocks. The well confirmed the existence of reservoir development in this rock, but no movable hydrocarbons were proven in any of the wells. "It is disappointing to drill dry wells, but we have previously confirmed the existence of recoverable gas in the Tornerose structure. Experience gained from these wells will be useful during the drilling of additional wells in this area in the years ahead," says StatoilHydro's vice president for infrastructure-led exploration in the North, Ørjan Birkeland. Two wells have previously been drilled in production licence PL 110B on the Tornerose structure. Both were successful. This production licence was awarded in 2004 in connection with TFO 2004 (award in pre-defined areas), whereas PL 110 C was awarded as additional acreage to the Tornerose discovery in connection with the 19th licensing round in 2006. The two appraisal wells were drilled by Polar Pioneer in 413 metres of water. This rig will now be used for the drilling of a new StatoilHydro-operated exploration well in the Barents Sea, well 7226/2-1 in production licence 395. Licensees in production license 110C: StatoilHydro (operator) (33.53 percent), Petoro (30.00), Total E&P Norge (18.40), Gaz de France Norge (12.00), Hess Norge (3.26) and RWE Dea Norge (2.81).

7 Mar 2008

Find in the Barents Sea

Hydrocarbons have been proven in the Obesum prospect in the Barents Sea. StatoilHydro is the operator and has 100 percent interest in this licence. This is the fourth find on StatoilHydro-operated licenses on the Norwegian continental shelf in 2008, and the fifth so far this year. The drilling in production licence 228 in the Barents Sea is completed. Hydrocarbons were proven in sandstone from the Triassic Age, and extensive data acquisition has been conducted. The results from the well show that the reservoir contains both oil and gas. It is too early to estimate the size of the finds and further data processing is required. ”The finds confirm our expectations that additional reserves can be found in this area, and we plan to drill another well in this licence in 2008,” says Tim Dodson, head of exploration on the Norwegian continental shelf. This was the first well in production licence 228, which was awarded in the Barents Sea licensing round in 1997. The well was drilled to a total depth of 2825 metres below sea level, and was completed in Triassic rocks. The well will now be permanently plugged and abandoned. Well 7222/6-1S was drilled by the Polar Pioneer drilling rig in 364 metres of water. The next project for the Polar Pioneer is an appraisal well for PL110C on the Tornerose discovery. StatoilHydro has previously reported discoveries south-west of the Grane field and in the Fram area of the North Sea, and Gamma at Haltenbanken. Additionally, a discovery was made at Marulk on Haltenbanken where ENI Norway is the operator and StatoilHydro has a 50 percent ownership stake. StatoilHydro is the operator and has 100 percent interest in licence 228.

10 Dec 2007

Dry well in the Barents Sea

StatoilHydro has completed drilling of the Askeladd Beta exploration well in production licence 7120/8-4 in the Barents Sea. The well was drilled some six kilometres south-west of the Snøhvit field and 150 kilometres north-west of Hammerfest, northern Norway, in a water depth of 275 metres. Its purpose was to prove hydrocarbons in sandstones of Jurassic age that could have yielded additional resources near the Hammerfest LNG plant at Melkøya. The well was dry and only traces of hydrocarbons were proven. The well will now be permanently plugged and abandoned. The operation was carried out by the Polar Pioneer drilling rig in a safe, efficient and environmentally sound way in accordance with applicable petroleum industry requirements for the area. StatoilHydro will have a comprehensive exploration programme in the Barents Sea in 2008. Several wells will be drilled to prove new deposits that are suitable for Snøhvit, as well as additional wells in new areas of the Barents Sea. Polar Pioneer's next assignment will be to permanently plug a well at Snøhvit before moving on to a new exploration well. Snøhvit Unit licensees are StatoilHydro (operator) with a 33.53% interest, Petoro AS (30.00%), Total E&P Norge AS (18.40%), Gaz de France Norge AS (12.00%), Hess Norge AS (3.26%) and RWE Dea Norge AS with 2.81%.

5 Nov 2007

Dry well in Snøhetta prospect

Drilling of the first exploration well 6609/6-1 in the Snøhetta prospect in the Norwegian Sea has been completed. No hydrocarbons were proven. StatoilHydro is operator for production licence 286 in block 6609 on the Nordland Ridge. "This wildcat was started in September and completed after the merger of Statoil and Hydro," says Geir Richardsen, exploration vice president in Exploration & Production Norway. "Collaboration between the drilling teams in the two former companies has been good and the drilling operation was carried out in a safe, efficient and environmentally-sound manner." The primary objective was to test the potential for hydrocarbons in Upper Cretaceous rocks. Secondly, the well was also to explore the prospect opportunity in the Brygge formation in Eocene rocks. Only thin layers of sandstone were found in the potential reservoir zones. This was the first well in PL 286 which was awarded in the 17th licensing round in 2002. The well was drilled to a total depth of 2,710 metres below sea level and terminated in Triassac rocks. It has now been permanently plugged and abandoned. The drilling operation was carried out by the Polar Pioneer rig in 330 metres of water. The rig will leave the area on 3 November for the Snøhvit Unit to drill well 7120/8-4, Askeladden Beta. StatoilHydro is operator for this well.

22 Oct 2007

Four year contract for Polar Pioneer

StatoilHydro has awarded a four-year contract to Transocean for lease of the semi-submersible rig Polar Pioneer. The contract will become effective during the first half of 2010. The exact date of commencement will depend on the completion of work under the current rig lease contract. "This is the first rig contract awarded by the new company and represents a strategically important acquisition, not least with regard to exploration in the far north of Norway and completion of production wells," says Kjell-Erik Østdahl, chief procurement officer. "Moreover, we have good previous experience with this rig. It is flexible and has a proven record in efficient operations. It is vital for StatoilHydro to secure further resources for exploration projects in the time ahead, and Polar Pioneer is regarded as suitable in this respect," says Østdahl.

23 Jul 2007

Drilling of Snøhvit well completed

Statoil has concluded the drilling of an appraisal well in the Snøhvit field in the Barents Sea. The well was drilled to map the recoverable oil reserves in the field. The appraisal well 7120/6-2 in production licence 097 was drilled to a depth of 3,120 metres below the seabed and finished in late Triassic rocks. Water depth in the area is 321 metres. The Polar Pioneer drilling rig has performed yet another successful operation in the Barents Sea. The appraisal well was drilled without any incidents or accidental discharges to the sea. The goal of the drilling was to gain further information about the thickness of the gas and oil column in the western part of Snøhvit and to find out whether the oil column is situated in a zone with reservoir properties that are sufficiently good for oil recovery. A comprehensive data compilation has been done in the well. The data will now be analysed and the result will be ready during September. The well has been temporarily plugged and will possibly be used later for injection of formation water or carbon dioxide. Statoil is operator for the development and operation of Snøhvit with a 33.53% share. The other licensees are Petoro (30.00%), Total E&P Norge (18.40%), Gaz de France (12.00%), Amerada Hess Norge (3.26%) and RWE Dea Norge (2.81%).

28 Feb 2007

Oil and gas discovery in the Barents Sea

Hydro has proved the presence of oil and gas in the exploration well on the Nucula prospect in the Barents Sea. The drilling was carried out using the semi-submersible drilling unit “Polar Pioneer”, around 110 kilometres north-east of the Goliath discovery, and around 65 kilometres north of the Norwegian town of Honningsvåg. As operator for production licence 393, Hydro has now completed drilling of exploration well 7125/4-1 on the Nucula prospect. The exploration well was drilled to a total depth of 1592 metres below the surface of the sea, reaching rock formations from the early Triassic period. Oil and gas were encountered in the well. Hydrocarbons were found in the Realgrunnen Group formation, and in the Kobbe formation. The well was not production tested, but extensive data collection and sampling work has been carried out. ”It is positive that a new, functioning petroleum system has been proven in this part of the Barents Sea, too. However, it is important to emphasise that there is a need for further evaluation and analysis of collected data in order to ascertain whether or not the discovery is commercial,” says Vice President Tore Lilloe-Olsen, head of Exploration in the Development Norway sector, in Hydro’s Oil & Energy business area. Production licence 393 was awarded in March 2006. Less than a year later, drilling is now completed. There have been strict requirements for this exploration well, with regard to discharge and preparedness. The only discharge to the sea during this drilling operation has been from the top hole, and this has predominantly been composed of a mixture of fresh water and table salt. Examinations of the sea bed have also been carried out after the drilling, and these show that the environmental effects of the operation have been minimal. “Hydro set ambitious targets for implementation of this drilling operation. For this reason it is gratifying to see that the operation was carried out with less discharge to the sea than planned, no unforeseen incidents, and with minimal effects on the environment. This shows that Hydro is capable of carrying out drilling operations with an extremely good environmental profile, in areas where this is necessary,” Lilloe-Olsen comments. Hammerfest was used as base both for helicopter transportation and the provision of supplies to the exploration rig, while several of the emergency preparedness vessels were stationed in Honningsvåg.

16 Jan 2007

Drilling started on the Nucula prospect in the Barents Sea

The semi-submersible drilling unit 'Polar Pioneer' today started drilling on the Nucula prospect in the Barents Sea. The well is to be drilled 45 kilometers north of the North Cape, and drilling is expected to take around 40 days. Hammerfest will be used as the base for both helicopter transportation and the provision of supplies to the exploration rig. Production licence 393 was awarded during the 19th licensing round in March 2006, and less than a year later Hydro has commenced wildcat drilling on the licence. “We are delighted that we have managed to drill this well so quickly following the licence award. This emphasises Hydro’s intention to invest in the Barents Sea,” says head of Exploration, Tore Lilloe-Olsen. “We are also extremely proud of the environmental profile that has been established for this drilling operation. The quality of this operation is top class, both in terms of planned discharge to the sea and preparedness,” Lilloe-Olsen concludes. This exploration well must meet strict requirements, both with regard to discharge and preparedness. The only permitted discharge to the sea is during drilling of the uppermost part of the well (the top hole), when discharge is predominantly composed of a mixture of cooking salt and fresh water. Hydro has also planned extensive oil-spill preparedness. Several of the oil protection systems provided by the Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies (NOFO) will be in the area during the drilling, and an agreement has been entered into with 17 local fishing vessels, with 24-hour response time. In addition, both a helicopter and a monitoring aircraft are available to assist in any potential operation. In December, Hydro held a course and a practical exercise in Honningsvåg for all those who are intended to play a role during a possible oil-spill protection operation in connection with the exploratory drilling.

8 Feb 2006

Drilling on Snøhvit completed

The Polar Pioneer drilling rig completed drilling of the 10 Snøhvit wells in the Barents Sea on Tuesday 7 February. The drilling operations have been performed without any harmful discharges to the sea. "The drilling campaign has on the whole been a success, and the wells have been drilled with great precision in terms of reservoir drainage," says Thor Bensvik, drilling and well manager for the Snøhvit project. "We have drilled a total of 10 wells without any harmful discharges to the sea and within the original budget and schedule," he continues. Polar Pioneer started drilling on Snøhvit in December 2004. Prior to the operation, the 20-year-old rig was modified to meet the environmental requirements of the discharge permit for drilling in the Barents Sea. Compliance with the environmental requirements has been important to Statoil. The group has promoted the use and further development of new technology for this type of operation. "We have achieved the good operational and environmental results through thorough planning of the work tasks beforehand and great commitment by the entire Snøhvit team during the execution," explains Mr Bensvik. Polar Pioneer is now finishing the completion work on the wells. The rig will then clean and prepare nine of the wells for production and one well for carbon dioxide injection. This work is expected to be finished before the summer. The first phase of the Snøhvit project covers the Snøhvit and Albatross fields, which lie about 140 kilometres north-west of Hammerfest in northern Norway. The wells will come on stream when the Hammerfest LNG plant at Melkøya is completed in 2007. Statoil is operator for the development and operation of the Snøhvit project.

5 Dec 2005

Snøhvit drilling enters final phase

Drilling and well completion work on the Snøhvit development operated by Statoil in the Barents Sea is now entering its final phase. The Polar Pioneer rig moved south to the associated Albatross reservoir on 20 November in order to drill three producers. This unit has already drilled and partly completed six production wells and the carbon dioxide injection well on the actual Snøhvit field. To ensure high output towards the end of Albatross’ producing life, two of its wells will be drilled and completed with a horizontal section. These will run through the reservoir 1,430 metres beneath the seabed, and rank as the only highly-deviated wells in this phase of the development. Drill cuttings are being transported to land for deposition. “Our work so far has been successful,” reports Thor Bensvik, drilling and well manager for the Snøhvit project. “The reservoir has been penetrated at the planned depth,” adds Lars Klefstad, who heads the petroleum technology department for the field. “We’ve also gathered large volumes of data from a number of the wells, and set a Barents Sea record for core length by retrieving a continuous section 82.5 metres long.” Well placement was analysed in detail with the aid of three-dimensional seismic data and advanced reservoir models. Collection and analysis of well data are important for future reservoir management as well as for production planning. All 10 wells on Snøhvit and Albatross will be ready for production to start in 2006, but are not due to come on stream until the Hammerfest LNG plant on Melkøya is completed in 2007. This development comprises subsea production installation on the Snøhvit, Albatross and Askeladd discoveries, which lie about 140 kilometres north-west of Hammerfest.

12 Sep 2005

Comprehensive rig contract secures drilling capacity

Together with Statoil, Eni and Shell, Hydro has entered into a contract with Transocean and Smedvig that will boost exploration well drilling capacity on the Norwegian Continental Shelf during the coming years. The contract comprises the hire of three rigs, each for a minimum of three years - nine rig-years altogether. The three rigs are Polar Pioneer and Transocean Arctic from Transocean and Smedvig's West Alpha.T "Four companies of this size joining forces to secure the required rig capacity represents a completely new departure," explains Hydro's exploration manager Nils Telnæs. The rigs will mainly concentrate on exploratory drilling, though Transocean Arctic will also be used for production on the Statoil-operated Tyrihans field. All in all, the collaboration will include almost 40 exploration wells, and capacity has been secured for HPHT wells and for drilling in Arctic regions. Transocean Arctic will be replaced by Transocean Leader for a period, so the collaboration has also secured deep-water capacity for drilling in the Norwegian Sea. "With this contract, Hydro will be favourbly positioned to continue developing the Norwegian Continental Shelf, and we will also be able to acquire new licences and drilling assignments in connection with the imminent licencing rounds, TFO 2005 and the 19th round," states Telnæs.

26 Jan 2005

Snøhvit drilling under way

The first well on Statoil’s Snøhvit development in the Barents Sea is under way from Polar Pioneer, which is due to complete this initial 10-hole drilling phase by spring 2006. On station since 7 December, the rig has about 100 crew in activity at any one time. Drilling has progressed without unintentional discharges or serious incidents. “We’re down to the reservoir and taking cores about 2,750 metres down,” explains drilling and well manager Thor Bensvik. “The total depth is due to reach 2,900 metres.” Designated F-2H, this first well will be used to inject carbon dioxide back below ground during the production phase. Some 700,000 tonnes of this greenhouse gas is due to be separated from the wellstream every year and injected into a separate formation to avoid releasing it to the air. That represents a major environmental measure, which will release far less of the carbon dioxide produced from the field than would otherwise be the case. Polar Pioneer is designed to work in Arctic conditions and to meet strict environmental standards, not least in relation to the important fishing industry in the Barents Sea. Water-based mud without environmentally harmful chemicals is being used to drill the Snøhvit wells. And the rig crew are specially trained to comply with strict environmental standards. “We’re putting great emphasis on good planning of the work, and have the natural environment on the agenda every single day,” says Mr Bensvik. The next well is due to be spudded in early February, and will be one of nine producers covered by the first drilling phase. A total of 20 production wells plus the carbon dioxide injector are due to be drilled in three phases, with the second and third of these scheduled for 2011 and 2014 respectively.

11 Apr 2003

Transocean to drill on Snøhvit

A letter of intent worth some NOK 700 million has been signed by Statoil and Transocean for drilling and completion work on the Snøhvit field in the Barents Sea. The contract with Transocean covers drilling and commissioning of the ten wells in phase one of the development on the Snøhvit and Albatross fields. The Polar Pioneer rig will carry out the work, which is due to start in the autumn of 2004. The work should be finished in the spring of 2006, reports Thor Bensvik, manager for drilling and well operations for Snøhvit. "Following a full round of tenders, we concluded that the Polar Pioneer rig was best suited for this job, and that Transocean had the best commercial bid," says Mr Bensvik. The letter of intent has been signed subject to the approval of the partners in the Snøhvit licence.

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