Statoil says it has reached a deal for a rig to drill three wells in the Newfoundland offshore in 2012 and 2013.

Seadrill's West Aquarius deepwater drilling rig will carry out Statoil’s three-well drilling program in the region.

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Statoil will use the West Aquarius deepwater drilling rig for exploration activities in the Newfoundland offshore. (CNW Group/Statoil Canada Limited)

"We have ambitious exploration targets offshore Newfoundland, and securing rig capacity is essential for reaching those targets," Geir Richardsen, head of exploration for Statoil in Canada, said in a press release. "We look forward to putting this rig's capabilities into action."

Statoil’s offshore Newfoundland drill program will start in late 2012, the company says.

One of the wells will be spudded in the Jeanne d’Arc basin.

Two others will be drilled in the Flemish Pass, where the Norwegian company has significant holdings. In 2009, Statoil was granted a significant discovery licence for its Mizzen prospect in the area.

There are no producing projects in the deepwater Flemish Pass. To date, all production has taken place in the Jeanne d’Arc basin.

The West Aquarius drilling rig was built in South Korea in 2009. According to Statoil, the vessel can operate in harsh environments of up to 3,000 metres of water depth.

The West Aquarius has to make its way to Newfoundland from Asia, where it's been working for ExxonMobil.