The origins of Maersk Drilling can be traced to the Danish Underground Consortium (“DUC”), established in 1962 among Maersk, Shell, and Gulf to exploit the resources in a defined area of the Danish part of the North Sea. By 1972, DUC produced first oil in the Danish part of the North Sea, and later that year, the Maersk Storm Drilling Company was established in a joint venture with Dearborn-Storm Drilling Company and underpinned by two semi-submersibles named Zephyr I and Zephyr II. These rigs were owned by Maersk Drilling but operated by Storm Drilling. The following provides an overview of some of Maersk Drilling’s key periods and corresponding milestones since its inception:
Maersk Drilling established the Atlantic Pacific Marine Corporation (“APMC”) in the United States that would serve as a basis for building knowledge concerning drilling technology including the training of Maersk Drilling employees in the U.S. state of Louisiana. This further led to the construction of the jack-up Maersk Explorer, delivered in 1975 as the then world’s largest jack-up rig.
Following the ordering of Maersk Explorer, Maersk Drilling continued with a further ordering of five new drilling rigs of a variety of types including two jack-ups, a semi-submersible floater, a drilling tender and a so-called self-contained platform rig. While these units were being built Maersk Drilling established its head office and operations centre in Copenhagen while APMC continued as a U.S.-based drilling company and further acted as a training centre for the crews on the new rigs.
In 1976, Maersk Drilling established a 50-50 joint venture with the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation to create the Egyptian Drilling Company. Following its inception, the joint venture remained operational for more than 40 years until December 2017, when Maersk Drilling sold its 50% shareholding in EDC to the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation.
Between 1978 and 1986, Maersk Drilling completed a second extensive Newbuilding programme. Two of these rigs, Maersk Giant and Maersk Guardian, were built for operation in harsh environments and waters as deep as 394 feet in the North Sea.
1990 to 2004: Founding of Norwegian market, entrance into Venezuela and shallow water fleet expansion
In 1990, Maersk Drilling pioneered the foundation of the market for jack-up drilling in Norway, with Maersk Guardian working for Phillips Petroleum Company. This marked the beginning of a new era for the NCS, which until then was explored and developed primarily by semi-submersible rigs and platform rigs. Bringing jack-up rigs into the market proved the ideal solution for many oil and gas projects in the region, in terms of both mobility and cost-effectiveness.
In 1993, Maersk Drilling expanded its geographic footprint to begin drilling operations in Venezuela for Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA). The activities, registered in the company Maritime Contractors Venezuela S.A. (MCVSA), comprised the ownership and operation of ten cantilevered offshore drilling barges on Lake Maracaibo. The barge business was divested in 2014.
In 1996, the Maersk Giant worked as both a drilling rig and a production unit for the Norwegian Yme field, an innovative technique that Maersk Drilling repeated with other rigs in the years to follow. The divestment of Maersk Giant was announced in November 2018—the transaction is expected to close during 2019.
Between 1993 and 2004, an additional three jack-up rigs and one floater rig were ordered and subsequently delivered, starting with the delivery of the jack-up Maersk Gallant in 1993.
The jack-up rigs Maersk Innovator and Maersk Inspirer were delivered in 2003 and 2004, respectively, and the semi-submersible Maersk Explorer was delivered in 2003. The Maersk Explorer was constructed in Baku, Azerbaijan for operation in the Caspian Sea and represented an expansion of Maersk Drilling’s operations in the floater market.
2005 to 2010: Entrance into deepwater and introduction of Service Delivery Model
Between 2007 and 2009, Maersk Drilling further reinforced its position in the jack-up segment with addition of six jack-up rigs, four of which were built for operation in harsh environments in the North Sea.
Starting in 2007, Maersk Drilling bolstered its capabilities for midwater drilling through the management of two semi-submersible rigs on behalf of China Oilfield Services (COSL); operations were primarily conducted offshore Australia and New Zealand on behalf of independent E&P Companies.
Maersk Drilling subsequently entered the deepwater market in 2008 with the delivery of Maersk Developer, the first in a series of three 6G semi-submersibles rigs; Maersk Discoverer and Maersk Deliverer were subsequently delivered in 2009 and 2010, respectively. With these semi-submersible rigs, Maersk Drilling had the ability to serve E&P Companies in all benign-environment midwater and deepwater regions worldwide.
In 2009, Maersk Drilling developed a Service Delivery Model to engage with its customers and ensure it consistently contributes to the safe and efficient drilling of wells, taking proactive and planned actions that go beyond typical industry standards.
2011 to 2018: Shallow water and deepwater fleet expansion and business model innovation
Leveraging its newfound capabilities in deepwater drilling, Maersk Drilling ordered four Newbuilding 7G drillships in 2011: Maersk Valiant, Maersk Venturer, and Maersk Viking were subsequently delivered in 2014 and Maersk Voyager in 2015.
In 2014, to cater for the significant expansion in its organisation, Maersk Drilling relocated to a new domicile in Lyngby, Denmark.
Ordered in 2011, 2012 and 2013, four Newbuilding XL Enhanced (“XLE”) jack-up rigs were delivered in the period from 2014 to 2016: Maersk Intrepid, Maersk Interceptor, Maersk Integrator, and Maersk Invincible. The XLE rigs incorporate enhanced features to improve efficiency, safety and logistics on board, and are capable of year-round operations in all parts of the North Sea.
In May 2016, Maersk Drilling acquired the Newbuilding Maersk Highlander, a North Sea jack-up rig, for $190 million; upon delivery, the rig commenced a five-year contract with Maersk Oil (now owned by Total) in the third quarter of 2016.
In November 2017, Maersk Drilling entered into a five-year alliance agreement with AkerBP and Halliburton with the view to increase collaboration efficiency and enable standardisation and simplification of processes, ultimately shortening the lead time from discovery to first oil.
In December 2018, Maersk Drilling entered into an alliance with Seapulse, under which Maersk Drilling will provide a suite of fully integrated drilling services for a global offshore oil & gas exploration drilling programme. Such alliance agreements are unique to the industry, and are primary examples of Maersk Drilling’s continued dedication toward exploring innovative new business models with customers and partners within the offshore drilling industry.