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Image courtesy of Saudi Aramco.

Rig provider Rowan Companies has formed a joint venture with Saudi Aramco focused on owning and operating offshore drilling rigs in Saudi Arabia.

Rowan and Saudi Aramco have signed an agreement through their subsidiaries to create a 50/50 joint venture to own, operate and manage offshore drilling rigs in Saudi Arabia.

The companies said the joint venture company will use Rowan’s established business in Saudi Arabia as its base with a scope of operations covering Saudi Arabia’s existing and future offshore oil and gas fields.

The new company is anticipated to start operations in the second quarter of 2017.

At start of the new company’s operations, Rowan will contribute three of its jack-up drilling rigs and Saudi Aramco will contribute two of its jack-up drilling rigs.

Rowan will also contribute two additional jack-up rigs as the rigs complete their current Saudi Aramco contracts in late 2018.

The new company will also manage the operations of five Rowan jack-up rigs currently in Saudi Arabia, until their associated drilling contracts expire.

After the contracts have expired, the rigs may be released, leased by or contributed to the new company.

Rowan and Saudi Aramco have also committed the joint venture to purchase future newbuild rigs that will be constructed in Saudi Arabia.

“The new company will uniquely position Rowan to participate in the growing Saudi Arabian offshore drilling market, and provide Rowan with a compelling opportunity for a long-term partnership with the world’s leading oil and gas company, and create a long-term, profitable growth platform with firm rig commitments,” Rowan president and CEO Tom Burke said.

Rowan is a global provider of contract drilling services with a fleet of 30 mobile offshore drilling units, comprised of 26 jack-up rigs and four ultra-deepwater drillships.