Shell takes Stena Drilling’s newest drillship for work in Gulf of Mexico


Offshore drilling contractor Stena Drilling has secured a new drilling contract with Shell’s subsidiary – Shell Offshore – for operations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. This assignment will be undertaken by the newest addition to the rig owner’s fleet.

Stena Drilling reported on Monday, 29 May 2023, that it had signed a five-year deal with Shell for the Stena Evolution drillship. This is the newest member of the firm’s fleet of mobile offshore drilling units (MODUs). The drillship is slated to start operations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico in 2Q 2024 for a primary term of five years, with an option to extend the contract upon completion of the primary term.

“Stena Drilling are delighted to secure this long-term scope of work with Shell Offshore Inc. in the United States Gulf of Mexico. We look forward to the Stena Evolution joining our active fleet and working with Shell to complete a safe and efficient campaign,” highlighted the offshore drilling contractor.

Stena Drilling revealed the name and colours of the Stena Evolution rig via social media channels in March 2022, describing it as a seventh-generation operation-oriented enhanced ultra-deepwater DP3 drillship capable of operating in water depths up to 12,000 ft and drilling depths up to 40,000 ft.

This came after Stena disclosed it would buy a drillship from Samsung while the initial news about the drillship sale came from Samsung, when the shipbuilder said in early December 2021 it had agreed to sell the drillship to the then-unnamed European company for a price tag of $245 million.

Furthermore, the drillship was originally ordered by Ocean Rig, which ordered two drillships, Ocean Rig Santorini and Ocean Rig Crete, in 2013 and 2014. After some delays, the drillships were expected to be delivered in 3Q 2019 and 3Q 2020, respectively. However, before the delivery was able to take place, Ocean Rig was acquired by Transocean, and the drillships were never delivered, as Transocean cancelled the orders in September 2019.

When it comes to the fate of the other, former Ocean Rig drillship, Santorini, Samsung Heavy delivered it to Italy’s Saipem back in November 2021 for a two-year charter contract. Saipem exercised the option to buy the drillship in December 2022.

Stena Drilling has won new contracts and extensions over the past few months, including a new deal for a semi-submersible rig with Ithaca Energy for operations in the UK and a contract extension with BP for work in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.


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