CANADIAN drill rig operator High Arctic Energy Services says it is exciting times for participants in Papua New Guinea’s oil and gas sector.

Updating its drilling rig fleet’s activities, the company said that three of its four PNG-based rigs – Rigs 103, 104 and 115 – and currently in operation.

The company’s president and CEO, Tom Alford, said Rig 103 continues to operate under contract for a drilling program in the Western Province, which is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2016.

He added that Rig 104 have recommenced activities following its temporary stand down due to seasonal weather delays in its area of operation. The rig is substantially rigged up on its next well, Muruk-1, and is expected to begin drilling in early November.

Rig 115 has recently spudded the Antelope 7 and Rig 116 remains on standby under contract in Port Moresby.

In conjunction with the resumption of drilling activities for Rig 104, High Arctic has also announced that it has entered into an agreement with its customer for an additional interim extension to its drilling and related services contracts for Rig 104 until January 31, 2017.

Rig 103 remains under contract until the completion of its existing drilling program.

Discussions are progressing with its customer towards a long term extension of its drilling and support services contract for Rigs 103 and 104.

“We believe that the pending closing of Exxon’s purchase of InterOil is further support to Papua New Guinea’s competitiveness in the global LNG market,” Mr Alford said.

“These are exciting times in Papua New Guinea and we congratulate our customers on their continued progress towards the development of this world class asset.

“We are pleased with the extension of the Rig 104 contract as it allows us to continue operations without disruption while negotiations with our customer around the terms of a longer term arrangement have continued.”