MENAdrill’s Sponsor, First Energy Bank BSC has signed an agreement for two jack-up drilling rigs to be constructed at the Maritime Industrial Services Co Ltd Inc (MIS) yard in Sharjah, UAE. The total value of the rig packages will be in excess of $400 Million including tools, drill pipe, construction oversight and other associated costs.

The first rig is scheduled for delivery on 30 September 2010. Delivery of the second rig will follow three months later, on 31 December 2010.

“We are very pleased to purchase these jack-ups,” said Mr. Esam Janahi, Chairman of First Energy Bank BSC (FEB), the sponsor of MENAdrill. “Slots for new rig construction are very rare in today’s market. So when we saw that these contracts fit our fast-track plan for MENAdrill and offered excellent value for money, we moved aggressively to capture them.”

The rigs represent the anchor investment in the MENAdrill fleet. They are to be built according to the Super M2 designs of Friede & Goldman of Houston, Texas, USA and are capable of operating in water depths up to 100 meters to drill oil and gas exploration and development wells. The rigs and their associated equipment have been specifically designed to meet the needs of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and South Asia drilling markets and have accommodations for crews of up to 110 people.

The MENA region is the world’s premier holder of hydrocarbon resources and producer of hydrocarbons. Large and growing energy demand from China, the GCC region and other emerging economies are expected to fuel strong demand for oil and gas in the years ahead. At a time when production rates are declining in such producing regions as the US, Mexico and the North Sea, the MENA region is projected to provide an ever-increasing share of the world’s energy needs. Over 90% of the offshore wells drilled in the MENA region in 2007 were in water depths of 100 meters or less.

MENAdrill will use the rigs to provide drilling services under long term contracts to National Oil Companies (NOCs) and International Oil Companies (IOCs) throughout the region. “We believe these brand new rigs built in the GCC for the specific needs of the region will be very attractive to the many operators that are increasing their activity levels and making substantial investments in new development projects,” said Mohamed Ghanem, Investments Department, First Energy Bank. “While the price of oil has retreated in recent weeks, it is still very attractive in historical terms and amply sufficient to make the new projects viable.”

Adding to the upbeat investor sentiment Mohammed Al-Nusuf, Placement Department, First Energy Bank, said: “There is a pressing need for significant investment in oil drilling equipment in the region, and today’s agreement seeks to help meet that need. The demand for investment in equipment is only matched by the global market’s demand for oil. This investment is a farsighted one, and one that recognizes in the long term the demand for production will again be critical.”

The MIS yard in Sharjah, UAE, is currently building a number of drilling rigs for customers in Africa, Europe and Asia and undertaking major rig refurbishment projects for several leading international drilling contractors. The yard also provides a wide range of fabrication, construction and technical services to oil and gas operators throughout the region.

Commenting after the signing, Jerry Smith, MIS Managing Director, said “We are very pleased to enter into this relationship with First Energy Bank. This order is a significant one as it sees MIS expanding its business to new clients and new areas.” According to Smith, MIS is seeing an increased interest in its new-build programme. “We expect this strong interest to continue over the next few years in line with the increase in demand for production in the region.”