This facility represents the first in a series of brand new mobile units which are due to be used on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Offshore exploration on the NCS and elsewhere has been restricted for several years by a shortage of rigs. High oil prices and big demand are now driving the construction of a number of such vessels worldwide.

Forecasts indicate that seven-eight new mobile drilling units will be in operation on the NCS alone within a couple of years. Built by Samsung Shipyard in South Korea, West Phoenix is accordingly the first of many.

Seadrill applied last October to have its newbuilding covered by an AoC, an essential requirement before a mobile drilling unit can work in the petroleum sector on the NCS.

The drilling unit is registered in Norway, and the Norwegian Maritime Directorate (NMD) has issued it with the appropriate certificates.

Receipt of the AoC means that Seadrill must ensure that the assumptions applied during the approval process are met by the company and that activity complies with the requirements in the continental shelf regulations.

Designed for deepwater operation, West Phoenix is due to begin a three-year contract with Total Norge in the third quarter this year, starting in the Norwegian Sea.