First Steel Cut for Discoverer Americas

First steel was cut today for the Discoverer Americas, marking the start of the construction of the second of Transocean's four enhanced Enterprise-class drillships in South Korea. Contracted to Hydro of Norway for operations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico under a four–year drilling contract, the ultra-deepwater drillship Discoverer Americas is designed to operate in water depths up to 12,000 feet and drill wells up to 40,000 feet deep.

Attending the steel-cutting ceremony for the Discoverer Americas at the DSME (Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co., Ltd.) shipyard was Walter Knur, Transocean's Project Manager, and Magne M. Boge, Hydro Project Manager.

"We are looking forward to a safe and efficient construction process on the Discoverer Americas in which we will apply the knowledge gained from building the Discoverer Clear Leader, the first of Transocean's four newbuild drillships," Knur said. "Already, we have saved time by reducing the engineering period on the Discoverer Americas to six months from 10 months on the Discoverer Clear Leader. Now, we need to continue to execute on our schedule and goals, especially in safety."

The rig will feature Transocean's patented dual-activity drilling technology and other leading-edge capabilities designed to save significant time and expense during deepwater drilling operations. Some 20 Transocean project team members at the shipyard and additional personnel in Houston Engineering and Park 10 operations are supporting the construction of the Discoverer Americas, Discoverer Clear Leader, Discoverer Inspiration and a fourth newbuild drillship yet to be named.

The construction schedule calls for the shipyard to deliver the Discoverer Americas early in the second quarter of 2009 followed by mobilization to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

The Discoverer Clear Leader, which has a drilling contract with Chevron for operations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, has approximately one year left in its construction schedule. The Discoverer Inspiration has a contract with Chevron in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, and an unnamed unit is contracted with BP to work in Angola. Construction on those two units is slated to begin in the second and third quarters of next year, respectively.

The four newbuild units are enhanced versions of the company's three existing Enterprise-class drillships, which have set drilling records in recent years, including the world water-depth drilling record of 10,011 feet held by the Discoverer Deep Seas.

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