NORTH SEA RIG MARKET - October 2019 

Rig utilisation remains stable - more rigs set to join the fleet 

North Sea rig utilisation has remained stable over the past few months in both the jack-up and semi-submersible sectors, with jack-up utilisation holding at 77% for the past three months and a figure of 69% being maintained for semi-submersibles since August. The stability may come to an end over the winter months when E&A drilling activity in particular is likely to reduce, perhaps more so in the UK sector compared to Norway.

During the July-October period it has become apparent that demand for jack-ups has been robust with 14 new contracts awarded. In contrast, only one four-month extension has been allocated to a semisub and just recently a new 225-day contract for the Transocean-owned Paul B Loyd Jr for drilling in the UK sector. The latter fixture could be significant as Transocean confirms two dayrates involved; an initial one of $160,000 and higher one $205,000. This is the first proof for some considerable time of semisub dayrates, in the UK sector, breaching the $200,000 benchmark. Transocean’s decision to reveal the two rates is an interesting one and is thought to be a good indicator that dayrates are finally beginning to move upwards.

The overall North Sea fleet currently contains 81 rigs (42 semisubs and 39 jack-ups) but both sector groups are expected to expand before end-year. The semisub fleet will absorb the Deepsea Yantai and the West Mira, while the jack-up Noble Houston Colbert is scheduled to start a contract with RockRose in late-October. Then in March-April next year, both the semisub West Bollsta and the Valaris JU-248 are scheduled to start respective contracts with Lundin in Norway and Premier in the UK sector.


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