Transocean's Alaska rig contract with Shell starts July 2014

Mon Nov 18, 2013 6:07pm EST

Nov 18 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc has a contract with Transocean Ltd for a drilling rig to start work off the coast of Alaska starting July of next year - in time for the state's traditional Arctic offshore drilling season.

Confirmation on timing of the previously announced contract came in Transocean's monthly fleet status report, released late on Monday.

Speculation about Shell's intentions for Alaska next year has bubbled since an executive said at the end of October he expected to submit an Alaska exploration plan in a "few weeks," with a focus on the Chukchi Sea.

The Transocean rig effectively replaces Shell's Kulluk, a drillship that ran aground in January while being towed south after a troubled 2012 drilling season for the company off Alaska.

Transocean offered no details on the three-year contract for its Polar Pioneer rig, except that it would earn a rate of $620,000 per day in the summer season from July to October, and then $589,000 per day the rest of the year.

Shell's other rig for Alaska, Noble Corp's Discoverer, is undergoing maintenance in South Korea. Its contract currently runs until February 2014.