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Ensco Plc (ESV - Analyst Report) – a leading supplier of offshore contract drilling services – has taken delivery of ENSCO 120, the first in its series of three ultra-premium harsh environment jackup rigs.

ENSCO 120 has been contracted by Nexen and will function in the North Sea. The rig will commence operations from the beginning of the fourth quarter and will receive a dayrate of about $230,000 plus cost adjustments.

After completion of construction at the Keppel FELS yard in Singapore, the newbuild is advancing toward the North Sea for final outfitting and crew adaptation.

The rig set a new shipyard record when it was jacked up successfully to 539 feet on its 540-foot legs during jackup trials. The rig also successfully lifted a 2.5-million-pound hook load at its full cantilever extension.

The second rig in the series, ENSCO 121, is expected to be delivered in the fourth quarter. Wintershall has contracted the rig, which will also operate in the North Sea.

The new jackup rigs are superior versions of the KFELS Super A design. The rigs are equipped to operate in water depths of about 400 feet and are designed for the most challenging large multi-well platform programs, ultra-deep gas programs or ultra-long reach wells with a total drilling depth of about 40,000 feet.

The new rigs are designed to expand the area of operations in the Central North Sea and other harsh environments. Enhanced features of the rigs include improved cantilever envelope, augmented rig floor layout, fully programmed hands-free offline pipe handling systems, ultra-high capacity jacking and fixation systems.

Ensco carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). However, other Zacks Ranked #1 (Strong Buy) stocks – Range Resources Corp. (RRC - Analyst Report), China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (SNP - Analyst Report) and Dril-Quip, Inc. (DRQ - Analyst Report) – appear more attractive for the short term.

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