Shell lets contracts for ultradeepwater drillships

Royal Dutch Shell PLC let 10-year contracts to Transocean Ltd. for the construction of four newbuild dynamically positioned ultradeepwater drillships. Cost of the four rigs is an estimated $3 billion, excluding interest.

The newbuild rigs will be constructed at the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd. shipyard at Okpo, South Korea. Construction on the first drillship is expected to commence during fourth-quarter 2013, Transocean said.

Shipyard delivery for the first drillship is scheduled for mid-2015. The other three drillships are expected to be delivered from the shipyard at 6-month intervals after that.

After customer acceptance, the contracts are expected to commence in 2015 and 2016.

Peter Sharpe, Shell's executive vice-president of wells, said, “Shell continues to develop its deepwater operations and modernize its contracted rig fleet at fair market rates. These state-of-the-art deepwater rigs, on which we are collaborating with Transocean to design, will comply with the highest industry standards for safety, operations and environmental protection for drilling deepwater wells.”

Each of the drillships will be designed to operate in 12,000 ft of water and drill wells to 40,000 ft. The drillships will feature Transocean's patented dual-activity drilling technology and have a variable deckload capacity of 23,000 tonnes.

The newbuilds will be outfitted with two 15,000 psi blowout preventers, which are expected to reduce customer nonproductive time between wells. The four drillships will be able to accommodate a future upgrade to a 20,000 psi BOP when available.

The rigs also will feature diesel engines configured to comply with anticipated Tier III International Maritime Organization emissions standards.

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