Cairn contracts two rigs for drilling offshore Greenland

By Phaedra Friend Troy

Continuing its exploration campaign offshore Greenland, Cairn (LON:CNEhas secured two dynamically positioned deepwater rigs to work the 2011 drilling season.

Both operated by Ocean Rig, the Leiv Eiriksson is a fifth generation semisubmersible rig, and the Ocean Rig Corcovado is a newbuild sixth generation drillship. Cairn has contracted the rigs to operate offshore Greenland during the 2011 drilling season.

Awaiting approval from the authorities, Cairn plans to drill up to four exploration wells during this drilling campaign.

“By contracting two vessels for the Greenland exploration program Cairn has increased operational capability and flexibility and continues to demonstrate its focus on safety,” said Sir Bill Gammell, chief executive of Cairn. “We look forward to drilling up to four exploration wells offshore Greenland during 2011.”

Greenland’s Promise

Cairn holds interest in eight exploration blocks offshore Greenland. Using the Stena Forth and Stena Don rigs, the company drilled three wells during the summer of 2010, two of which, T4-1 and T8-1 encountered noncommercial hydrocarbons and were plugged and abandoned.

The Alpha-1S1 well encountered oil shows, but drilling on the well had to be stopped because the drilling season ended. The well was suspended to allow possible re-entry to sidetrack or deepen the well.

Previous to Cairn’s recent exploration, only six wells were drilled in Greenlandic waters – five in the 1970s and one in 2000.

Offshore Greenland is considered to be one of the world’s largest yet undiscovered oil and gas provinces. A recent study of the Arctic Shelf concluded that there is potential to discover some 17 billion barrels of oil equivalent in the West Greenland-East Canada Basin, 31 billion barrels of oil equivalent in East Greenland and 3.3 billion barrels of oil equivalent in Northern Greenland.

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