Transocean to Buy Newbuild Ultra-Deepwater Drillship from DSME Ordered by Seadrill in 2013

(OE) Offshore drilling contractor Transocean said Thursday that it had together with Perestroika and funds managed by Lime Rock Management L.P created a joint venture, Liquila Ventures.

Liquila Ventures agreed with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., Ltd. (“DSME”), to purchase Hull 3623, the ultra-deepwater newbuild drillship formerly known as West Aquila, for approximately $200 million.

According to Transocean, Hull 3623 is a high-spec, 1400 short-ton hookload ultra-deepwater drillship.

“This seventh-generation dual-activity drillship will have a large deck space, high load capacities, and will be dual-stack ready,” Transocean said.

Transocean has made a $15 million noncontrolling investment in Liquila Ventures and maintains the exclusive right to market and manage the operations of the rig, which is expected to be delivered from DSME in the third quarter of 2023.

The drillship was originally ordered in 2013 by Seadrill, when the company ordered both the West Aquila and the West Libra rigs. Seadrill then in 2016 agreed with DSME for the deliveries to be delayed for 2018 and 2019, but it then in March 2018 canceled the contracts.

About two months later, in May 2018, billionaire John Fredriksen’s Northern Drilling company signed agreements with DSME to buy the two rigs for $296 million each, with $90 million paid at contract signing and the remainder at delivery.

However, Northern Ocean said in August 2021 that it had canceled the contract for the West Aquiladrillship due to a delay in delivery as well as a repudiatory breach of contract.

At the time, Northern Drilling said that it had paid about $90 million in advance for the drillship contract. The company said it would claim a refund of the installment paid, plus interest and damages.

After canceling the order for the West Aquila drillship in August 2021, citing a delay in delivery as well as a repudiatory breach of contract, Northern Drilling in October 2021 canceled the order for the West Libra drillship, citing the same reasons as with the West Aquila cancellation.

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