The four rigs, the GSF Main Pass I, GSF Main Pass IV, GSF High Island I and GSF High Island II, are scheduled to mobilize in pairs in the fourth quarter of 2006 from the U.S. Gulf of Mexico to a Middle East shipyard for approximately 60 days of upgrades. The rigs will then move to their drilling locations offshore Saudi Arabia, with contract commencement expected in March and April 2007.
"We are very pleased to resume a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Saudi Aramco that dates back more than 30 years," said GlobalSantaFe President and CEO Jon Marshall. "This agreement supports Saudi Aramco's continuing expansion of its exploration and development drilling programs to supply the world's increasing demand for energy, and it provides our shareholders with attractive returns through improved rates and considerably longer terms compared to those available in the Gulf of Mexico."
The Saudi Aramco agreement is the largest drilling contract ever signed by GlobalSantaFe, and it is believed to be the largest jackup agreement in the history of the offshore drilling industry. Including this agreement, the strong worldwide demand for offshore drilling services has pushed GlobalSantaFe's contract drilling backlog to more than $8 billion from $4.8 billion at the start of this year.
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