(EnergyAsia, March 20, Thursday) — Singapore’s Keppel FELS Limited, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Keppel Offshore & Marine Limited, said it will build a third KFELS B Class jackup drilling rig worth about US$205 million for PetroVietnam Drilling & Well Services Corp’s subsidiary PetroVietnam Drilling Investment Corp.

This latest unit and PVD Invest’s second rig PV Drilling II, which is already under construction at Keppel FELS, are scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2009 respectively.

The order for PV Drilling II was placed shortly after Keppel FELS delivered the first jackup rig PV Drilling I to PVD Invest two months ahead of schedule.

“It is estimated that there will be some 900 exploration wells in Vietnam over the next 15 years. We want to position ourselves to capture this market for specialised oil and gas services with the support of a strong and reliable shipyard that can deliver projects punctually, on budget and without incidents,” said Do Van Khanh, CEO of PV Drilling and chairman of PVD Invest.

“We have found all these qualities in Keppel FELS. Having worked with them on several important projects, I am confident that they are the best people to help us build our highly specialised rig fleet.”

To meet the tight exploration schedule, PV Drilling intends to make capital investments of around VND 27.4 trillion (US$ 1.7 billion) from now till 2025 to build and operate an 11-strong fleet of offshore and onshore rigs.

“We have built an enduring partnership with the PV Drilling Group on mutual understanding, teamwork and trust. We are honoured that PVD Invest has chosen Keppel FELS time and again for their milestone projects,” said Tong Chong Heong, managing director and chief operating officer of Keppel Offshore & Marine.

The latest KFELS B Class rig will be able to operate in water depths of 360 ft with a drilling depth of 30,000 ft. Versatility of this rig has been further enhanced to broaden its area of operability, by including features like engines that meet more stringent emission standards and lower spud can bearing pressure for operation in areas with soft soil conditions. Its living quarters is designed to accommodate up to 110 men, in 1-men and 2-men cabins.

The Keppel Group has been involved in the Vietnamese offshore market for more than 20 years since Keppel FELS first completed the Hoang Sa 1,200-tonne floating crane in 1984. It also built Vietnam’s first jackup rig, the Tam Dao I in 1988.