Shell has terminated the contract for the Polar Pioneer, a harsh environment semisubmersible drilling rig, announced rig owner Transocean on 28 December.
The rig was famously used this summer in Shell's Arctic campaign in the Chukchi Sea, and was often the target of environmental protests wherever it was docked in the Pacific Northwest.
The contract was originally scheduled to end in July 2017. Transocean said it will be compensated for the early termination through a lump-sum payment that includes adjustments for reduced operating costs and demobilization to Norway.
According to the Associated Press (AP), the Dockwise Vanguard will transport the Polar Pioneer to Norway from its current home at Port Angeles Harbor, in Washington state. AP reported on 23 December that the Vanguard's route will follow the coast to the Strait of Magellan at the tip of South America, and will then cross the Atlantic.
The Polar Pioneer was used as part of Shell's drilling program at Shell’s Burger J prospect, 70mi northwest of the village of Wainwright, at 140ft water depth offshore Alaska. The semisubmersible was one of two drilling units used in Shell's Arctic campaign. On 15 December, Shell opted to terminate the contract for the Noble Discoverer drillship following the supermajors announcement that it would abandon exploration offshore Alaska back in September.
Image: Polar Pioneer/Transocean