Oil and gas company Caspian Sunrise has announced the sale of 50% of its shallow-water drilling barge the Caspian Explorer, pending payment.

Acquired for $3.7m plus shares in 2020, the UK-based company will receive $22.5m in exchange for 50% of shares in the vessel’s holding company, Prosperity Petroleum FZE. This means shares in Caspian Sunrise itself are protected from dilution. The buyer is Seychelles-registered company Stepping Stone Investments.

The Caspian Explorer is specialised for operations in the shallow north end of the Caspian Sea, where standard rigs cannot function. Since its purchase, the barge had been carrying out a contract with North Caspian Operating Company to complete safety works on its operations.

Caspian Sunrise stated that in 2022, the vessel generated no revenue at a cost of $850,000. In 2021, the company valued 100% of the barge at $3.6m. In March 2023 however, the Caspian Explorer acquired its first drilling contract. This likely led to the current $22.5m purchase price for 50% of the shares.

The Isatay Operating Company will utilise the vessel for the drilling of a well at a depth of 2,500m, with drilling set to begin in 2024. Isatay is a joint venture between Italy’s Eni and Kazakh state oil and gas company KazMunayGas.

Caspian Sunrise stated at the time it expected to bring in $15m in revenue from the drilling over the expected two-month process. Provisions have been set in the contract for a second identical well to be drilled at the same $15m terms if the first is successful.

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Clive Carver, Caspian Sunrise Chairman, stated: “We are naturally pleased that our faith in the Caspian Explorer will result in a significant influx of funding to further develop the Group’s assets without any dilution to shareholders.”

The statement from the company notes issues with the provision of well equipment recently. As a result of sanctions against Russia, Caspian Sunrise has had to procure the equipment from China, necessitating longer delivery times.