The mammoth Ocean Greatwhite rig has been deployed West of Shetland, where it has begun a five-well campaign for BP (LON:BP) lasting into 2024.
Owner Diamond Offshore said the semi-submersible rig had been reactivated and embarked on its latest deployment last month, having undergone maintenance work at Port of Kishorn on Scotland’s west coast.
It is now set to drill five wells, including the supermajor’s Ben Lawers exploration prospect, as well as work at nearby Schiehallion.
Filings from UK regulators show BP has a window of 15 February 2023 until 31 May 2023 to drill the wildcat well, designated 204/23a – 204/23-31.
Data from the North Sea Transition Authority suggests the well was spudded on 28 March in water depth of 519 metres, with a well target depth of 2,857m. Operations are expected to take a maximum of 62 days.
A spokesperson for BP told Energy Voice: “The Ocean Great White has commenced a five-well drilling campaign for BP, West of Shetland.
“This includes drilling the Ben Lawers exploration well, which was a 28th licensing round commitment, and four development wells in the Schiehallion area.”
The well is reportedly the company’s first operated UK exploration well in almost five years, following Capercaillie in the Central North Sea in 2018.
Secured by Diamond last year, the $80m contract for the Ocean Greatwhite is expected to last over 300 days, with options for another eight if needed, and has an estimated end date of Q1 2024.
Diamond said last month it expects most, if not all, of those options will be used.
The deployment marks the latest boost to activity in the area, following hot on the heels of French supermajor TotalEnergies (LON: TTE) which spudded its own hotly anticipated exploration well at Benriach last month with the Transocean Barents rig.
Estimated to hold mid-case resources of 638 billion cubic feet of gas, the well is expected to complete between July and September.
BP already operates major assets in the region at Clair, as well as the Glen Lyon FPSO which handles production following its Quad 204 redevelopment project.
Last week Energy Voice revealed that the group is looking to develop the next phase of its giant Clair oilfield, with a key final investment decision (FID) hoped to be reached next year.
Formerly Clair South, it will now be known simply as Clair Phase Three.