Norwegian oil giant
) has hired
) rig -- West Aquarius -- for deepwater exploration activity
offshore Newfoundland, Canada. Statoil did not reveal the contract
value or the hiring charges for the vessel.
The ultra deepwater drilling rig belongs to the sixth generation
semi-submersible DP3 vessel class. Built in 2009, in South Korea,
the vessel is equipped to function in rough environment up to a
water depth of 3,000 meters.
Statoil aims to drill three exploration wells off Newfoundland
and is expected to commence operations in late 2012 and continue
through 2013. Two of the wells are located in the Flemish Pass
Basin, where Statoil remains the operator with a 50% interest. The
other partners in these licenses are
) and Repsol YPF SA, holding 40% and 10%, respectively. The third
well lies in the Jeanne d'ArcBasin.
Statoil has chartered West Aquarius from
). In November 2011, ExxonMobil had contracted West Aquarius for a
period of two years at a dayrate of $526,000, holding an option for
further contract extension until June 2017.
The company is increasingly shifting its focus to the
still-unexplored areas of offshore Newfoundland, and intends to
become one of the major producing operators of the region in the
coming years. As exploration remains a key component of its growth
strategy, this will enhance the company's volume growth
Per the Zacks Consensus, the earnings per share estimate for
Statoil is $3.00 for 2012 and $3.02 for 2013. This implies a
decline of 69.5% in 2012 and a growth rate of 0.9% in 2013.
Statoil holds a Zacks #3 Rank, which is equivalent to a Hold
rating for a period of one to three months. Longer term, we
maintain our Neutral recommendation on the stock.
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