EnscoRowan created and rig utilisation rises in the North Sea

The North Sea drilling fleet continues to undergo changes and one of the most significant for some time is the merger and creation of EnscoRowan which was completed on schedule. The newly formed driller has become the joint leading supplier of jack-ups with a current fleet of 13; Maersk Drilling also has 13 jack-ups in the North Sea. However, EnscoRowan’s fleet will soon expand to 15 rigs due to the return of Rowan Norway from the Mediterranean and the addition of the newbuild Ensco 123 which starts its maiden contract with Premier in July; the rig has been hired for a two-well drilling programme in the UK sector. Once both rigs are under contract there will be 41 jack-ups based in the North Sea. 

At end-April, rig utilisation in the North Sea’s jack-up sector climbed to 72%, its best level since January and an 11% improvement compared to the previous month. Semi-submersible utilisation also showed improvement, reaching 58% and halted a slide since reaching 66% in the summer of 2018. Although both sectors recorded higher levels, overall utilisation needs to be nearer 85-90% in order for rig contractors to start securing higher dayrates.

Four new contracts were reported in April, split equally between semisubs and jack-ups. Dolphin Drilling confirmed UK operator i3 Energy had selected the Borgland Dolphin for a three-well drilling programme starting in July; the outcome of an outstanding letter of intent issued a few months ago. The other new award was a two-well deal for the Scarabeo 8 in Norway, issued by Wintershall. In the jack-up sector, EnscoRowan reported 10 months of new work had been acquired via two new contracts. Petrofac has fixed the standard unit Ensco 72 for a three-well programme in the UK sector. While Faroe has hired the high-spec Ensco 100 for a nine-well P&A programme in the UK that will be in direct continuation of the rig’s existing commitment with Repsol that starts in June.


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