LONDON — Caspian Sunrise has agreed to the conditional sale of a 50% stake in the shallow-water drilling vessel Caspian Explorer for $22.5 million.
The transaction involves selling 50% of the shares in the UAE-registered Prosperity Petroleum FZE, the holding company of the Kazakh-registered KC Caspian Explorer LLP, which in turn owns Caspian Explorer, to Stepping Stone Investments based in the Seychelles.
The vessel is purpose-designed to work in the shallow northern Caspian Sea where traditional deepwater rigs cannot operate. It operates mainly between May and November; in other months, the area is subject to ice formation.
According to Caspian Sunrise, it operates in water depths between 2.5 m and 7.5 m and can drill to depths of 6,000 m. It has accommodation for about 100 personnel.
In 2020 Caspian Sunrise purchased it for about $3.7 million, and it has since performed safety-related work for the North Caspian Operating Co.
In March the company secured the vessel’s first drilling program, scheduled to take place in summer 2024, with a well to be drilled to a planned depth of 2,500 m for Isatay Operating Co. LLP, in which Eni is the lead co-venturer.
The South Korean consortium of KNOC, Samsung and Daewoo Shipbuilding devised the concept for the vessel with assembly taking place in 2010-11 at the Ersay shipyard in Kazakhstan between 2010 and 2011 at a cost thought to have been about $170 million, with total costs after fit-out estimated at $200 million.
Caspian Sunrise believes a replacement vessel would now cost more than $300 million to build and take several years to become operational.