Statoil Rig Layup Seen Adding to Pressure Amid Russia Sanctions

This content was published on September 17, 2014 - 14:45

Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Statoil ASA’s decision to suspend operations of a second rig offshore Norway in just more than two months will add further pressure on rental rates amid sanctions against Russia, Nordea Markets said.

Norway’s biggest energy company will temporarily lay up China Oilfield Services Ltd’s “COSL Pioneer” rig in the fourth quarter due to overcapacity, the Stavanger-based company said in a statement today. That followed another halt announced in July.

“We read this as another negative for the North Sea drilling market, and particularly for rigs coming off contract on the Norwegian continental shelf,” Janne Kvernland, an analyst at Nordea Markets, said in a note to clients. Companies with rigs ending contracts next year include Transocean Ltd. and Seadrill Ltd.’s subsidiary North Atlantic Drilling Ltd.

Statoil’s move illustrates how the state-controlled company, which operates more than 70 percent of oil and gas production offshore Norway, is putting pressure on oil service companies as it joins competitors such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc in cutting planned spending over the next years.

It also comes amid doubts that $4.25 billion in contracts signed between North Atlantic and OAO Rosneft will go through as the U.S. and European Union escalate sanctions against Russia.

“Statoil putting its spending brakes on coupled with the Rosneft deal potentially not being finalized, put day-rates and utilization under further pressure in the region,” Kvernland said.

Seadrill, which is controlled by billionaire John Fredriksen and owns 70 percent of North Atlantic, is headed for the first gain in Oslo trading since Sept. 3, climbing 0.9 percent to 196.4 kroner. The world’s biggest offshore rig company has fallen 21 percent this year as clients rein in investments to fight rising costs amid stagnant energy prices.

The second biggest, Transocean, fell 0.4 percent to $35.23, extending losses this year to 29 percent. Transocean owns four of the eight rigs due to come off contracts next year, according to Nordea. Odfjell Drilling Ltd. owns two and North Atlantic and Fred Olsen Energy ASA one each.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mikael Holter in Oslo at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at Jonas Bergman

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