An artists rendition of the Ensco DS-10 drillship design.

An artists rendition of the Ensco DS-10 drillship design.

Offshore drilling services provider Ensco plc (NYSE: ESV) said Monday that it has placed an order Samsung Heavy Industries for its eighth advanced-capability DP3 ultra-deepwater drillship for approximately $625 million.

The new drillship, ENSCO DS-10, will be based on the Samsung GF12000 hull design and is scheduled for delivery from SHI in South Korea in the third quarter of 2015. The agreement also includes an option for an additional drillship of the same design, Ensco said.

“We continue to see very strong demand for rigs in existing deepwater markets, along with growing demand from emerging exploration areas,” said Ensco Chairman, President and CEO Dan Rabun. “Operators are also showing high interest in this iteration of the Samsung DP3 drillship, due to its advanced design and capabilities that improve drilling productivity and fuel efficiency – two key factors that affect the operator’s project costs.”

“We have a track record of providing rigs that allow our customers to improve performance and operate efficiently, and the advances on these most recent drillship orders are again all about helping our customers succeed,” Rabun added. “Our strategy of fleet standardization further benefits our customers by providing consistency in systems and operational excellence.”

Including commissioning, systems integration testing, project management and tubulars, the construction cost is expected to be approximately $625 million.

Measuring 755 feet in length and 125 feet in width, ENSCO DS-10 will offer a 1,250-ton hoisting system with enhanced offline capability. Like ENSCO DS-8 and ENSCO DS-9, the new unit will have advanced capabilities to meet the demands of ultra-deepwater drilling in water depths of up to 12,000 feet and a total vertical drilling depth of 40,000 feet. It will be initially outfitted to work in water depths up to 10,000 feet.

Features of the GF12000 design include retractable thrusters; enhanced safety and environmental features; improved dynamic positioning capabilities; and advanced drilling and completion functionality, including below-main-deck riser storage, triple fluid systems and offline conditioning capability. The drillship also incorporates enhanced client and third-party facilities with living quarters for up to 200 personnel.

A 165-ton active heave compensating construction crane allows for deployment of subsea production equipment without interference with ongoing drilling operations. ENSCO DS-10 includes a 15,000-psi subsea well control system with seven rams and can accommodate a second BOP stack.

Ensco’s four active DP3 drillships are currently working in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Brazil and West Africa. Three are contracted into 2016 and the fourth is contracted into 2018. A fifth drillship, ENSCO DS-7, scheduled for delivery later in 2013, is contracted to Total into 2016.

ENSCO DS-8 and ENSCO DS-9, which are also based on the GF12000 hull design, are scheduled for delivery in 2014. Ensco is currently the only drilling contractor offering the advanced features of the GF12000 hull design.

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