State-owned National Iranian Drilling Company (NIDC) plans to increase its drilling rig count to 61 by the middle of 2013, up from the current 49 rigs.

The 45 per cent increase comes as part of Iran’s fourth five-year development plan, ending in March 2013, says NIDC deputy managing director, Mehran Makvandi, state-owned Shana news agency reports.

“During this and next year respectively nine and five additional drilling rigs will be joined to the NIDC’s onshore drilling rigs fleet increasing total number of NIDC’s drilling rigs to 75,” said Makvandi.

Iran is currently developing its domestic rig construction capabilities, launching a dual purpose, on and offshore drilling rig at the Salman oilfield in April, designed by state-owned Iranian Offshore Oil Company (IOOC).

Tehran also plans to begin drilling in the Caspian sea in 2012, after spending almost $500m on the construction of a semi-floating drilling platform and supply boats this year (MEED 20:4:11).