Gulf Drilling's $430m rig boost

Gulf Drilling International secures $430m credit for fleet expansion.

Gulf Drilling International, a Qatari contractor, has closed a deal for a credit facility of hundreds of millions of dollars to finance the construction of new rigs.

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The facility is worth US$430 million (Dh1.57 billion) and the company plans a $538m business expansion to include the construction of two land rigs, two jack-up rigs for offshore drilling in shallow water, and the acquisition of an accommodation barge for rig workers.

The planned expansion of the drilling fleet would be significant for Gulf Drilling International (GDI), boosting it to seven offshore jack-up rigs and six land rigs. The proposed barge acquisition would mark the company's entry into a new market sector.

"These new investments will nearly double the value of GDI's existing assets," said Saad al Kaabi, the company's chairman. "This will help GDI pursue its strategic plans to increase its share of Qatar's drilling market and to diversify into complementary lines of business."

The banking syndicate behind the line of credit comprises Qatar National Bank, International Bank of Qatar and the Saudi investment bank Samba Financial Group. Qatar National is the only member of the group that has had prior dealings with GDI. "It is encouraging to see such strong participation coming from Qatari and [other] GCC banks, as supporting our local banks is a priority," said Mr al Kaabi.

George Nasra, the managing director of International Bank of Qatar, said the bank's participation in the consortium underscored its strong commitment to assisting Qatar's economic growth.

"We believe that GDI's expansion plans will provide critical infrastructure for the further development of the oil and gas industry in Qatar," he said.

"Financing such strategic development plans is a key component of our strategy, particularly with the expected surge of developments in the country."

GDI was formed in 1964 as a joint venture between the state oil company Qatar Petroleum and Japan Drilling Company. It is now 70 per cent owned by Gulf International Services, a public company listed on the Qatar Exchange.