A deep water drilling rig owned by Aberdeen-based Dolphin Drilling is returning to the North Sea after three years in Brazil.
The Blackford Dolphin will drill a well at an unnamed location in the North Sea for MPX early next year before sailing west of Ireland to carry out work for Cairn Energy.
The contracts, which are worth a combined £45million for Dolphin and are expected to take five months to complete, follow nearly £370million of investment to upgrade the drilling rig several years ago.
Dolphin Drilling’s managing director Graeme Murray, said: “This is a significant event for the company and marks a clear statement of confidence in the long-term outlook for the UK and Irish offshore markets.
“We are encouraged by an apparent high level of forward demand in what we consider as being our domestic home market.
“Blackford Dolphin is one of the most modern units to grace the UK sector.”
The Blackford Dolphin will drill an appraisal well at Cairn’s Spanish Point prospect. Cairn is operator with a 38% stake, while partners Chrysaor, Providence Resources and Sosina Exploration hold 26%, 32% and 4% respectively.
London-based Chrysaor, which has an office in Banchory, said the development could hold more than 300million barrels of oil equivalent.
Chrysaor chief executive Phil Kirk said: “We are very pleased that the rig contract has now been signed for the Spanish Point appraisal well.”
Dolphin, which employs 90 people in Dyce, is part of the Norwegian group Fred Olsen Energy. The firm said it had two new drillships on the way, with the Bolette Dolphin available later this year and the Bollsta Dolphin being put straight to work on Chevron’s Rosebank field west of Shetland once it is built in 2015.