OSLO, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Seadrill and Gulf Drilling International (GDI) have formed a jointly owned rig firm to conduct exploration on behalf of Qatar Petroleum from 2020 to 2024, Seadrill said late on Thursday.
GulfDrill, a 50-50 joint venture between Seadrill and GDI, will initially operate five so-called jackup rigs on a $656 million contract with Qatar Petroleum. It did not say where the exploration would take place.
The state-owned energy firm also has the option to order further drilling with an additional contract value of up to $700 million.
The GulfDrill venture will charter two of its rigs from Oslo- and New York-listed Seadrill and three more from an unnamed shipyard.
"We are excited to establish a significant presence in an important jackup market and to partner with GDI," Seadrill Chief Executive Anton Dibowitz said in a statement.
"GulfDrill will give us the opportunity to improve our access to a market that is expected to show significant growth over the next years and strengthen our relationship with Qatar Petroleum," Dibowitz added. (Reporting by Terje Solsvik Editing by David Holmes)