Rockhopper Exploration has been formally assigned two slots with the Ocean Guardian drilling rig, to drill Sea Lion and Ernest, during its forthcoming drilling campaign in the Falklands.

This assignment is pursuant to a rig contract between Desire Petroleum (Desire) and Diamond Offshore Drilling UK (Diamond) and an assignment document between Desire, Diamond and Rockhopper.

The Ocean Guardian is due to arrive in the Falklands in February 2010. The first well to be drilled by the rig, due to spud in mid February 2010, will be Liz (Rockhopper: 7.5% interest), located on the western margin of the North Falkland Basin and operated by Desire (92.5% interest).

The second well to be drilled by the Ocean Guardian upon its release from Liz will be Sea Lion, which is 100% owned and operated by Rockhopper. The prospect is located on the eastern basin margin of the North Falkland Basin and is in close proximity to the Shell well 14/10-1, which recovered live oil.

Rockhopper will then be assigned either the third or fourth slot to drill the Ernest well. Ernest is located in licence PL024 and has a positive CSEM (Controlled Source Electromagnetic Anomaly). The Ocean Guardian drilling rig departed the Cromarty Firth in Scotland on November 26 en route to Liz, in the North Falkland Basin.