Equinor has awarded a contract extension to offshore drilling contractor Transocean for the Transocean Spitsbergen semi-submersible drilling rig for work offshore Norway.

Valued at approximately $253.3m (Nkr2.4bn), the contract covers nine additional wells and includes two one-well options.

Transocean said that the firm part of the contract extension is planned to start in October 2023 and be completed in April 2025.

The Spitsbergen harsh environment semisubmersible rig is expected to commence the drilling campaign for three production wells for the Haltenbanken West Unit in the autumn of 2023.

The Haltenbanken West Unit forms part of the Kristin South area in the North Sea.

The rig will undertake drilling work for six production wells for the Halten East project, which will be tied into the Åsgard field in the Norwegian Sea.

After that, additional two wells will be drilled on Kristin South.

Equinor anticipates the drilling programme, including options, to last for less than two years.

Equinor projects, drilling, and procurement executive vice-president Geir Tungesvik said: “Transocean has over an extensive period demonstrated that they deliver safe and efficient drilling operations for Equinor. Vi have therefore signed a long-term contract with them for a drilling programme for Halten East and Kristin South.

“We are pleased that we have now established predictability for these two operated licences. Thanks to the framework agreement with Transocean, we had an efficient process for both parties, truly leveraging the effect of our long-term collaboration.”

Featuring an automatic drilling control system, the Transocean Spitsbergen dual-derrick winterised rig is designed to drill high-pressure/high-temperature formations.

The rig is currently being used for well completion on the Snorre oil and gas field in the Tampen area in the Norwegian North Sea.

Last month, Equinor announced that it has withdrawn from its oil and gas joint ventures in Russia in response to Moscow’s military action against Ukraine.