Cobalt Explorer drillship on its way to Turkey

March 11, 2022
Turkey’s fourth offshore drillship will soon arrive from South Korea.

Offshore staff

ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey’s fourth offshore drillship, the Cobalt Explorer, will soon arrive from South Korea, according to the country’s state-owned Anadolu news agency.

Turkey’s state-owned oil and gas company, TPAO, purchased the Cobalt Explorer from the South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) in November 2021. Daewoo spent years trying to sell the ship after previous purchase agreements fell through.

The Cobalt Explorer was originally ordered by US-based Vantage Drilling. However, the contract between Vantage and DSME was terminated in 2015 after the owner became unable to pay for the vessel’s construction. Cobalt Explorer has since remained with DSME until an agreement for the sale of the vessel was signed with Northern Drilling in 2019. That deal was subsequently canceled by Northern Drilling.

Then, in November of last year, the rig was purchased by Turkey’s TPAO, which became the third owner of the vessel before it even left the shipyard.

TPAO has recently deployed its drillship fleet to find natural gas in the Black Sea. Last year, the drillship Fatih discovered a 135 billion cubic meter gas reserve in the Sakarya field, adding to the 2020 discovery of a 400 billion cubic meter natural gas field nearby.

Turkey is working to bring these resources online by 2023; the supply is expected to reshape its energy economy and reduce its dependence on imported gas. The Cobalt Explorer’s first deployment is expected to be in this area, according to Turkish media.