Drillship Ordered in 2013 Wins First Contract

Offshore drilling company Transocean said Thursday it had secured a three-year contract for the newbuild ultra-deepwater drillship Deepwater Aquila with "a national oil company" for work offshore Brazil. 

The contract is expected to start in the third quarter of 2024 and represents about $486 million in firm backlog, excluding a mobilization fee of approximately 90 times the contract dayrate.

Transocean also said it had agreed to acquire the outstanding interests in Liquila Ventures Ltd., a company formed to acquire the Deepwater Aquila, from its joint venture partners, Perestroika and Lime Rock Partners. 

Following this acquisition, Transocean will own and operate eight of the twelve ultra-deepwater, 1,400 short-ton hookload drillships in the world. The Deepwater Aquila is expected to be delivered from the shipyard in October 2023.

"In connection with the execution of the drilling contract for the Deepwater Aquila and the acquisition of the outstanding interests in Liquila Ventures Ltd., Transocean is exploring various debt financing alternatives to partially fund the costs associated with acquiring the rig from the shipyard and preparing it for its contract in Brazil," Transocean said.

As previously reported by Offshore Engineer, Transocean in November 2022 said it had together with Perestroika and funds managed by Lime Rock Management L.P created a joint venture, Liquila Ventures.

Liquila Ventures had agreed with the South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., Ltd. (“DSME”), to purchase Hull 3623, the ultra-deepwater newbuild drillship formerly known as West Aquila, for approximately $200 million.

Drillship ordered in 2013

The drillship was originally ordered in 2013 by Seadrill when the company ordered both the West Aquila and the West Libra rigs. Seadrill then in 2016 agreed with DSME for the deliveries to be delayed for 2018 and 2019, but it then in March 2018 canceled the contracts.

About two months later, in May 2018, billionaire John Fredriksen's Northern Drilling company signed agreements with DSME to buy the two rigs for $296 million each, with $90 million paid at contract signing and the remainder at delivery.

However, Northern Ocean said in August 2021 that it had canceled the contract for the West Aquila drillship due to a delay in delivery as well as a repudiatory breach of contract.

At the time, Northern Drilling said that it had paid about $90 million in advance for the drillship contract. The company said it would claim a refund of the installment paid, plus interest and damages.

After canceling the order for the West Aquila drillship in August 2021, citing a delay in delivery as well as a repudiatory breach of contract, Northern Drilling in October 2021 canceled the order for the West Libra drillship, citing the same reasons as with the West Aquila cancellation

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