(EnergyAsia, July 11 2011, Monday) — Maersk Drilling, a subsidiary of Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk group, said it is exercising an option to build two new ultra deepwater drillships at Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea for delivery in the second and third quarters of 2014 respectively.

The US$1.3 billion project includes a turnkey contract with the yard, owner-furnished equipment, project management and commissioning servicest. The two drillships will be of similar design to the two drillships Maersk Drilling ordered from Samsung in April 2011. The 228-meter long drill ships will be able to operate at water depths up to 12,000 ft (3,650 m) and will be capable of drilling wells of more than 40,000 ft (12,200 m).

The latest orders bring the company’s year-to-date investment to US$3.8 billion in two new jack-up rigs and four drillships.

Maersk Drilling added that it has obtained a new option for the construction of another two drillships.
Following the design philosophy of Maersk Drilling’s ultra deepwater semi-submersibles, the new drillships include features for high efficiency operation including a dual derrick, which allows for parallel and offline activities. The extensive storage areas and tank capacities provide an advantage when operating in areas with less developed infrastructure and limited presence of suppliers. Together with the higher transit speed the increased capacity will reduce the overall logistics costs for the oil companies. The drillships will be able to accommodate 230 people.

With revenue of US$1.6 billion and after-tax profit of US$399 million in 2010, Claus V. Hemmingsen, CEO of Maersk Drilling and a member of the A.P. Moller–Maersk Group board, declared the company has set its sights on becoming a world leading drilling contractor serving the ultra deepwater market.

“The order reflects our commitment to grow our rig fleet enabling us to serve our customers in the ultra deepwater segment on a more regular basis,” he said. There is growing demand for deepwater drilling rigs as the global demand for oil is increasing at the same time that production from mature fields is declining.

“This means that about six times the current Saudi production must be brought on stream over the next 20-25 years which will drive a solid growth in the demand for drilling services. The main part of this growth will take place in frontier areas such as deepwater,” he said.