Under the terms of the new contracts, ZPADCO will mobilise the rigs from China and operate them for a three-year base period, with the option for a further one-year extension. The rigs all range from 1,000-2,000 hp.

In October, ZPADCO, a joint venture of Sinopec subsidiary ZPEB International and the local Al-Rafid Trading Company, was awarded four similar contracts to deploy two 1,500 hp, one 1,000 hp and one 750 hp rigs across the kingdom (MEED 14:10:05).

Aramco aims to drill 500 wells a year to meet its production target of 12.5 million barrels a day by 2010. To do this, it plans to have more than 120 rigs in operation by the end of 2006. In August, the US’ Rowan Companieswas awarded a three-year drilling contract to supply and operate five class 116-c jack-up drilling rigs, while in July Canada’s Precision Drilling International (PDI) won an estimated $50 million contract to supply and operate two 2,000-hp deepwater drilling wells in the kingdom (MEED 12:8:05; 29:7:05).