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Ensco Purchases 6th Ultra-Deepwater Drillship

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Responding to the high level of customer demand driven by an ongoing trend of successful offshore discoveries, Ensco has ordered a new advanced-capability, ultra-deepwater drillship to be built at the Samsung Heavy Industries, Co. Ltd. (SHI) Shipyard in Geoje, South Korea. The vessel, ENSCO DS-8, will be the sixth Samsung DP3 drillship in the Ensco fleet, extending the benefits of Ensco's fleet standardization strategy. It is scheduled for delivery in the third quarter of 2014.

The contract also includes options for two additional drillships of the same design. The fleet expansion will extend Ensco's advantage of operating the newest ultra-deepwater fleet among global drilling contractors.

Including commissioning, systems integration testing, project management and spares, the construction cost is expected to be approximately $645 million. Consistent with the previous five Samsung ultra-deepwater drillships ordered since 2007, the new unit will have advanced capabilities to meet the demands of ultra-deepwater drilling in water depths of up to 12,000 feet and a total vertical drilling depth of 40,000 feet. New features on ENSCO DS-8 include retractable thrusters, enhanced safety and environmental features, improved dynamic positioning capabilities and advanced drilling and completion functionality including below-main-deck riser storage, triple fluid systems, offline conditioning capability and enhanced client and third-party facilities.

Ensco Chairman, President and CEO Dan Rabun said, "An ongoing trend of new deepwater oil and gas discoveries around the globe is creating a high demand for equipment capable of tapping those resources. Our track record of leading safety and deepwater performance increasingly makes us the driller of choice for operators working in complex offshore fields. Our high-grading strategy will ensure that we continue to be equipped to respond to rising customer demand."

The latest EnergyPoint industry survey rates Ensco first in total customer satisfaction among offshore drillers overall and specifically in safety, health and environment performance as well as in deepwater drilling.

The new drillship is based on the proprietary Samsung GF12000 hull design measuring 755 feet in length and 125 feet in width. It will offer a payload in excess of 22,000 metric tons and a 1,250-ton hoisting system. The rig's design and capabilities include numerous features that increase operating efficiency. Primary to these capabilities are enhanced and redundant offline tubular stand building features and a 165-ton active heave compensating construction crane, allowing for the deployment of subsea production equipment without interference with ongoing drilling operations. The rig, which will be initially outfitted for drilling in water depths of up to 10,000 feet, will be equipped with dynamic positioning in compliance with DPS-3 certification; six-5.5 megawatt thrusters for enhanced station-keeping; expanded drilling fluids capacity; a 15,000-psi subsea well control system with six rams, upgradable to seven rams and/or a second BOP stack; burner boom for well testing; and living quarters for up to 200 personnel.

"This addition to our fleet is in keeping with our strategy of standardization, which streamlines construction, operations, inventory management, training, regulatory compliance, repairs and maintenance," Mr. Rabun pointed out. "We are very pleased to continue our successful newbuild drillship program with Samsung."

Ensco's three active DP3 drillships are currently contracted into 2016 in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Brazil and West Africa. A fourth, ENSCO DS-6, is undergoing pre-commissioning modifications in preparation for its first well assignment under a five-year contract with BP. ENSCO DS-7 is scheduled for delivery in the second half of 2013.

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