British oil and gas company BP has commenced operations with two new drilling rigs in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.
This brings the company's fleet count to a total of nine rigs, in a bid to develop its portfolio of assets in the key US offshore basin.
The new ultra-deepwater drillship known as the West Auriga is a under long-term contract to BP from Seadrill, an international offshore drilling contractor.
The vessel has the capability of operating in up to 12,000ft of water and has commenced development drilling work at BP's Thunder Horse field.
According to BP, the other reconstructed drilling rig on its Mad Dog oil and gas production platform replaces the original rig on the platform, which was damaged and left inoperable by Hurricane Ike in 2008.
With the new rig, the platform recently resumed development drilling at the massive Mad Dog field complex. BP Gulf of Mexico business regional president Richard Morrison said the addition of the two new rigs reflect the importance of the deepwater Gulf of Mexico to the future of the company.
"It also clearly demonstrates BP's commitment to the American economy and US energy security," Morrison added.
BP currently anticipates investing on average at least $4bn in the Gulf of Mexico annually for the next decade and is also advancing a strong pipeline of future development projects in the deepwater region.
The company also wants to concentrate future activity and investment on growth opportunities in the Gulf around its four major operated production hubs and three non-operated production hubs.
The operated hubs include Thunder Horse, Na Kika, Atlantis and Mad Dog, while non-operated hubs include Mars, Ursa and Great White.
In April, BP started up the Atlantis North expansion, the first of seven additional wells to be tied back to the existing Atlantis platform.
Image: Mad Dog platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo courtesy of BP p.l.c.