HAMILTON, Bermuda – Seadrill Ltd. (XOSL:SDRL) has entered into turnkey contracts with shipyards in South Korea to construct four new ultra-deepwater drillships.
Two will be built at the DSME yard and the other two at the Samsung yard.
Seadrill estimates the price at less than $600 million per unit, including project management, drilling and handling tools, spares, capitalized interest, and operational preparations.
Deliveries of the completed units are scheduled for the second half 2015. Additionally, Seadrill has fixed priced options for delivery of two further units in the first half of 2016.
The vessels will have a hook load capability of 1,250 tons and a water depth capacity of up to 12,000 ft (3,657 m), with targeted sectors including the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, and West and East Africa.
Each will be outfitted with a seven-ram configuration BOP stack, with storing and handling capacity for a second BOP. Two of the drillships plans include equipment that could accommodate 20K BOP systems.
Since the company was formed in 2005, it says, the global offshore drilling market has absorbed around 260 new rigs, while use of the ultra-deepwater fleet has been 100%. Over the same period offshore production has been marginally down, underlining the growing complexity of developing new oil and gas reserves.
Seadrill expects ultra-deepwater production to rise from around 1 MMb/d currently to 5 MMb/d over the next six years. This will involve adding significant new development drilling capacity.
At the same time, the industry will be faced with an aging fleet, with about half of the current floating rig fleet older than 20 years. Increasingly, fourth- and fifth-generation vessels are incapable of meeting oil companies’ new requirements for safety margin and deck load capacity, and are being replaced with newer units.
However, orders for deepwater drilling units for delivery in 2015 have been lower than expected, Seadrill claims, with only seven uncontracted newbuilds available prior to the company’s latest order.