Marine Drilling Companies, Inc. announced that it signed an amendment to the Marine 700 drilling contract with Esso Exploration Inc. ("Esso"). The amendment provides for an extension of the delivery deadline to September 1, 1999 and establishes a definitive listing of items that must be resolved for rig acceptance in exchange for a reduction in the initial dayrate. The initial dayrate of $130,000 per day is subject to annual market escalation in years 2 through 5, such that total revenue is expected to be between $237.5 million and $301.9 million depending on drilling market conditions. This compares to total anticipated revenue of approximately $301.9 million under the original contract. The term of the contract remains unchanged at five years.