Maersk Drilling prepares first ultradeep-water drillship for Gulf (video)

Maersk Drilling has named its first ultradeep-water drillship and is preparing the landmark vessel to begin work on an Exxon Mobil project in the Gulf of Mexico early next year.

Maersk Viking is the first of four ultradeep-water drillships, worth a total $2.6 billion, slated to join the offshore services company’s fleet through 2014.  The vessel was named during a ceremony at the Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea on Oct. 10 and has been contracted to Exxon Mobil under a three-year, $610 million agreement.

“The naming of Maersk Viking is an important milestone in our further expansion in the ultradeep-water market,” said Maersk Drilling CEO Claus V. Hemmingsen in a written statement. “With the contract for Maersk Viking, we look forward to continuing our relationship with Exxon Mobil, and establishing ourselves as a significant drilling contractor in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.”

Maersk Viking is able to work in water up to 12,000 feet deep and drill up to 40,000 feet deep, reaching a total depth of nearly 10 miles.

Maersk Drilling, based in Copenhagen, Denmark, has a fleet of 16 drilling rigs. The company became active in the Gulf of Mexico in 2009 with the deployment of the Maersk Developer, a semi-submersable rig contracted to Statoil through Nov. 2015.

The company’s second ultradeep-water drillship is contracted to a ConocoPhillips/Marathon Oil project in the Gulf of Mexico under a three-year agreement beginning in the second quarter of 2014. The other two vessels are under construction in South Korea, slated for delivery in the second and third quarters of 2014.

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