First Jackup Rigs to be Built in the UAE to be Classed by ABS

ABS has been awarded the contracts for the first jackup drilling rigs to be built in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A total of four units will be built to ABS standards: two units for Thule Drilling ASA and two units for Mosvold Drilling Ltd.

The Thule rigs (Thule Energy and Thule Force) will be built at QGM Group LLC rig construction yard just 30 minutes drive from downtown Dubai in the emirate of Sharjah. The rigs are based upon the Friede & Goldman (F&G) Super M2 rig design. The Mosvold rigs will also be F&G Super M2 designs and will be built at Maritime Industrial Services Co. Ltd. Inc. (MIS) also in Sharjah.

According to ABS' Country Manager for the UAE Joe Brincat, the rig designs are well-suited for Middle East operations. "The rigs will be designated as +A1 Self Elevating Drilling Units and are suitable for operating in all non-harsh environments of the world with water depth capacity of 300 feet and drill down capacity to 30,000 feet."

The Super M2 design is an updated version of F&G's L 780 Mod II jackup rig of which more than 30 are operating worldwide. Brincat says the Super M2 design features an enhanced leg design with extended reach cantilever, wrap around quarters and modular hull design. The specialized leg fixation system and overall platform construction will be built to ABS Rules and to the satisfaction of the class society's engineers and surveyors.

Industry analysts report the Middle East is the fastest growing jack up market in the world. With rig utilization rates at an all time high, the jack up market is exceptionally strong. With commodity prices likely to remain high drilling activity continues to increase. With yards in China, Singapore and the U.S. Gulf Coast nearing capacity, new yards such as UAE's QGM and MIS have seen an opportunity.

Since publishing the first Rules for Building and Classing Offshore Mobile Drilling Units (MODUs) in 1968, ABS has responded to the technical challenges posed by jackup modifications and new designs with commentaries on specific direction as to how to apply and interpret class Rules to projects.

To date ABS has over 60 jackups on order to its classification with three deliveries already this year. Overall ABS market share of the worldwide drilling rig fleet is approximately 76 percent.