Singapore's Keppel Corporation Ltd, the world's top offshore drilling rig maker, said it plans to build its first drillship despite not having a buyer lined up, confident the design will be welcomed by the market.
It is the first time Keppel has built a rig without a contract in at least 14 years, an examination of company announcements showed.
A leading builder of jackup rigs, which work in water depths up to 500 feet (152 metres), Keppel has yet to build a drillship from scratch and has been trying to secure a contract for its own drillship design this year.
South Korea's shipbuilding giants, Samsung Heavy Industries Co Ltd, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co Ltd and Hyundai Heavy Industries Co Ltd, dominate the market for drillships, which are used to explore oil and gas in water up to 12,000-feet deep and cost at least $500 million a piece to build.
Keppel said in a statement that its new design would overcome the constraints of limited deck space found in most drillships. Construction is expected to be completed in 2016.
Keppel had expected to get the order for the drillship by the end of next year, Tong Chong Heong, chief executive officer of Keppel Offshore & Marine, said at a results briefing in October.
Keppel had bagged new orders of S$6.8 billion by late November, and is on track to deliver a record number of rigs this year. But growing competition from Chinese shipyards have put a lot of pressure on the company's profit margins in recent years.
The firm's share price closed at S$10.8 on Wednesday, up 2.4 percent so far this year, outrunning the benchmark Straits Times Index's 3.4 percent decline.