STAVANGER – The announcement of the Transocean and Aker Drilling combination in Norway was captured in headlines around the world.

News reports immediately noted the strategic importance of expanding Transocean’s leading Norwegian fleet. Adding two, proven harsh-environment ultra-deepwater semisubmersible rigs, to Transocean’s five-rig semisubmersible fleet in Norway, equals seven of the best rigs ever to work in the Barents Sea and Norwegian Sea. The bonus is two ultra-deepwater drillships under construction in South Korea.

Since the close of the deal in October 2011, the company’s 1,300 people in Norway have moved quickly to integrate. Onshore, the new management team and a single office location in Stavanger have been organized. Offshore, visits to the Transocean Barents and Transocean Spitsbergen have paved the way for integration of safety and operational systems and processes.

The rigs in the Transocean Norway Division have set many offshore drilling records, including the longest multi-lateral wells, for Statoil and other customers. Historically, the company has operated moored rigs. Now, the Aker transaction adds two dynamically positioned, ultra-deepwater semis to the Norway asset portfolio.

“Aker Drilling is an excellent strategic fit for Transocean,” said Transocean Ltd. President and Chief Executive Officer Steven L. Newman, when Transocean launched an all-cash voluntary offer in August to acquire Aker Drilling’s shares. “It allows us to enhance our position in Norway where we have enjoyed a long-term presence and excellent customer relationships. Aker Drilling’s high-quality people and state-of-the-art offshore drilling fleet will ensure that we continue to deliver outstanding service to our customers. This transaction also demonstrates our commitment to enhancing shareholder value by continuing to invest in high-specification assets to drive long-term growth.”

Aker was founded in 2005, and just four years later, the Barents began operations in 2009. The Spitsbergen was placed into service in 2010.

The long-term contracts for the Barents and Spitsbergen with Statoil ASA and Det norske oljeselskap ASA add several hundred million dollars to Transocean’s contract revenue backlog. Given the many efficiency and operational features of the rigs, it is easy to see why customers like their performance.

Both rigs are “winterized,” meaning the drilling floor is completely enclosed and key working areas have heating functions built in. The rigs’ excellent motion characteristics in the water help ensure efficient operations can continue during harsh weather, which reduces downtime for customers and contributes to revenue efficiency for the company.

Other features of the Barents and Spitsbergen include expanded topside areas, additional payload and storage capacity, compared to conventional rigs. The use of dual-activity technology enables crews to save time using simultaneous drilling steps, instead of sequential operations.

In order to capitalize on strong demand for high-specification rigs, and eventually participation in the opening of Arctic drilling, Transocean in Norway, will keep a strong focus on execution, the company’s vision and core values.  Achieving an incident-free workplace, all the time, everywhere and being customers’ trusted partner will be pivotal.

“We are clear about our objectives,” Erlandsen said. “The addition of Aker Drilling’s entrepreneurial spirit, technical leadership with our deep expertise in offshore drilling in Norway puts us in good stead to make progress on all our goals.”