UPDATE 2-Falkland oil explorers contract rig for 2015 drilling
(Adds statement from Ocean Rig UDW)
LONDON, June 4 (Reuters) - Energy companies active in the Falkland Islands have leased a rig for their 2015 drilling programme, paving the way for oil and gas exploration to continue next year in the region contested by Britain and Argentina.
London-listed Premier Oil said it had contracted the rig to drill a minimum of four wells in the North Falkland Basin with partner Rockhopper.
Cyprus-based Ocean Rig UDW said it had signed a leasing contract for its Eirik Raude drilling rig to be deployed in waters off the Falklands for around 260 days.
Premier Oil is sharing the rig with Noble Energy, which will deploy the equipment to drill another two wells elsewhere in the South Atlantic archipelago.
Tensions between Britain and Argentina remain high over the sovereignty of the Falklands, over which the two countries went to war in 1982, as Buenos Aires attempts to block London-listed firms from drilling for oil and gas in the area.
Falkland Oil and Gas Ltd also said it was participating in the 2015 drilling programme with Premier Oil and Noble Energy.
The rig, which is expected to arrive in the Falklands between February and May next year, will first drill at the Premier Oil-operated Zebedee and Isobel/Elaine prospects in the North Falkland Basin.
Noble Energy obtained the third and fourth drilling slots through a rig-sharing agreement with Premier Oil before the equipment is expected to return to the North Falklands to drill another two wells. Continuación...