A UK duo has secured Transocean’s Arctic III to drill an appraisal well in the Skipper field in the North Sea.

Located in Block 9/21A, the field is operated by AGT Oil & Gas in a 50/50 joint venture with Independent Oil & Gas (IOG).

The Transocean Arctic III is expected to spud the well in the first half of 2013.

IOG stated that the well slot as part of a long-term contract entered into by ATP that provided for the development well drilling for Cheviot, and also allowed certain third parties to use rig slots at a discount to prevailing market rates.

The Skipper well benefitted from an even greater discount, IOG said.

“The award of this rig contract by ATP with the Skipper appraisal well at the front end of the contract delivers on ATP’s and IOG’s strategy to bring Skipper to the point of a viable development,” IOG chief executive Mark Routh said in a statement.

“This allows us to drill our well with a top quality rig at a viable rate,” he added.

Although the Skipper field was first discovered in 1990, mechanical issues had prevented a substantive flow test at that time.

IOG stated that the aim for the appraisal well was to get a better sample and observe the flow characteristics.

The pair also planned to test the deeper Maureen and Dornoch exploration targets.

A recent report has assigned a mid-case estimate of 25.8 million barrels of gross contingent resources.