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Purchased Ocean Shield jackup drilling rig; renamed Ensco 109.

A subsidiary of global offshore drilling contractor Ensco plc, London, (NYSE: ESV) has purchased the Ocean Shield jackup drilling rig from Houston-based deepwater drilling contractor Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. (NYSE: DO) for approximately $186 million in cash.

The high-specification rig will be renamed Ensco 109 and is contracted by Houston-based Apache Corp. (NYSE: APA) in Australia through May 2011. Ensco will become the rig's new operator under the current contract.

Built by Keppel FELS in Singapore and delivered in 2008, the acquired jackup is a KFELS Super B Class drilling rig, with 2 million-pound hoisting capacity, a 15,000 psi high-pressure blowout preventer and nearly 5,000 barrels of liquid mud capacity. The design permits drilling in water depths up to 350 feet to a total depth of 35,000 feet.

Ensco chairman, president and chief executive Dan Rabun says, "The Middle East and Southeast Asia, in particular, are regions where we believe customers will require more high-spec, deep-gas jackup rigs. Ensco 109 will address this growing need and is expected to command higher day rates than standard duty jackups."

Diamond Offshore president and CEO Larry Dickerson adds, "This opportunistic transaction involving a single rig will further augment our funds for potential investment in deepwater assets, such as last year's purchase of the Ocean Valor and Ocean Courage."