21 September 2015, NewsWires – ExxonMobil is reportedly planning to drill its first operated exploration well off Norway in five years with a wildcat lined up at the Prince prospect in the North Sea.
The US supermajor intends to use Seadrill-owned semi-submersible West Alpha to drill the probe near its Balder and Ringhorne fields, according to Norwegian news site Offshore.no.
The rig was earlier used to drill the Universitetskaya-1 discovery in the Kara Sea off Russia last year under a joint effort with Rosneft before being moved back to Norway due to Western sanctions on the Kremlin over the Ukraine crisis.
ExxonMobil has the harsh-environment semisub on an 18-month charter with Seadrill subsidiary North Atlantic Drilling Ltd at a dayrate of $508,000 that expires in July 2016.
The well at Prince is expected to be spudded on 1 December and has an estimated duration of between 45 and 60 days.
The well site is located about four kilometres west of Ringhorne and a possible discovery could therefore be exploited as a subsea tieback to the existing field platform.
It marks a return to operated exploration activity off Norway for ExxonMobil after it drilled a duster near its Balder field in 2010, having since focused mainly on prospecting in Asia.
The company will be hoping for a more successful comeback than Anglo-Dutch counterpart Shell, which recently came up dry with a wildcat at the Portrush prospect in the Norwegian Sea – its first exploration well off the country in six years.