The ENSCO 8500 Series(TM) deepwater semisubmersibles are an enhanced version of ENSCO 7500, and are based upon an ENSCO proprietary design. The 8500 Series(TM) rigs will be capable of drilling in up to 8,500 feet of water, and can readily be upgraded to 10,000 feet water-depth capability if required. Enhancements include a two million pound quad derrick, offline pipe handling capability, increased drilling capacity, greater variable deck load, and improved automatic station keeping ability. With these features, the 8500 Series(TM) rigs will be especially well-suited for deepwater development drilling.
Carl F. Thorne, ENSCO's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented: "We are committed to a long-term strategy of increasing our deepwater rig fleet. We continue to see strong demand for deepwater equipment and are in discussions with several customers that have expressed interest in ENSCO 8502. We have elected to proceed with construction of ENSCO 8502 in advance of securing a firm drilling commitment for the rig as we believe that the window of opportunity to secure a 2009 delivery and achieve a competitive cost for the rig was closing. With all three of our other deepwater rigs committed well into the future, and with our contract backlog now in excess of $3 billion, we believe that the time was right to act. We are gratified to again be working with Keppel FELS shipyard on the ENSCO 8502 project."
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