Maersk Drilling, an entity within the A.P. Moller – Maersk Group, has signed a contract with Keppel FELS Limited in Singapore for the construction of two ultra harsh, high capacity jack-up drilling rigs. The first rig is scheduled for delivery at the end of 2013, with the second rig following seven months later.  The total project cost for the two rigs is close to USD 1.2 billion. This includes turnkey contract with the yard, owner furnished equipment, project management, commissioning, start-up costs and capitalized interest. The contract includes the option for the construction of one additional jack-up rig to be declared by July 2011.

“The decision to invest in additional offshore drilling rigs is based on our strong view on the fundamentals of the offshore drilling industry and our ambition to further strengthen our position in the markets we have chosen to be in,” says A.P. Moller – Maersk Group CEO, Nils S. Andersen.

The rigs will represent a new generation of jack-up rigs. The design is an enhanced version of the proven Gusto MSC CJ-70-150MD design and includes a number of features that will further improve the rigs’ drilling performance.  The rigs are especially suited for operation in the harsh environment of the North Sea at water depths up to 150 metres. The high capacity features include offline pipe handling and simultaneous operations as well as an enlarged  cantilever reach,  which will significantly increase the drilling efficiency compared to conventional units. The enhanced design also includes multi-machine control on the drill floor, which will allow for a degree of automation to ensure a safe operation and consistent performance. A total of 150 people can be accommodated on board in single cabins.

“The order is consistent with our strategy to further solidify our position as a leading operator of ultra harsh, high capacity drilling rigs,” says Claus V. Hemmingsen, CEO of Maersk Drilling. “These rigs are designed to meet the customers’ increasing demand for safe and highly efficient drilling operations and the enhanced features of this design will make the rigs superior to other rigs in the market. “

The new rigs are targeted for the Norwegian market and will comply with the strict regulatory rules in Norway. “We believe in continued strong demand for high capacity jack-up rigs on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, and have a strong track record since 1989 of operating in this challenging environment.  Our commitment to build another two ultra harsh, high capacity rigs has been well received by our customers,” says Claus V. Hemmingsen.

In addition to the two jack-up rigs just ordered, Maersk Drilling’s modern fleet counts 26 drilling rigs including deepwater semi-submersibles, high-end jack-up rigs and cantilevered drilling barges.

Photo: Maersk Drilling’s ‘Inspirer 1′ rig courtesy Maersk Drilling

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