ExxonMobil received consent from the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) to use the West Alpha semisubmersible drilling rig on the Balder field, in the central North Sea.
The West Alpha. From North Atlantic Drilling.
Balder is located approximately 190km northwest of Stavanger, on the Norwegian Continental Shelf with a water depth of about 125m.
The PSA says that ExxonMobil is now able to use the West Alpha for the drilling and completion of new production wells on the field, and for the installation of subsea equipment and plugging wells no longer in use.
The ExxonMobil 100% owned and operated Balder field has been developed using a subsea solution tied to a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) unit and several subsea production systems.
According to ExxonMobil, 17,000b/d were processed from the Balder field in 2013. The drilling campaign at the field began in 1Q 2013 using the West Alpha and as of 2014, three new wells have put into production.
In August, drilling began in the East-Prinovozemelskiy-1 license in the Arctic for Russian oil exploration giant Rosneft and ExxonMobil using the West Alpha. The University-1 well in the Kara Sea was drilled in one and a half months, amidst a clamor over US and EU sanctions aimed at Russia over its involvement in the Ukrainian crisis. The drilling was to last until October, however, operations were suspended in September due to the sanctions.
The West Alpha is owned by Seadrill and operated by North Atlantic Drilling. It was built at the Nippon Kokan yard in Japan in 1986 and has been upgraded several times for the Kara Sea’s harsh climate.