French oil major Total has awarded a conditional letter of award (CLOA) to Danish offshore drilling rig operator Maersk Drilling for the supply of two deepwater rigs, namely Mærsk Developer and Maersk Valiant.

The two semi-submersible rigs will be used for an exploration and appraisal project in Block 58 offshore Suriname.

Hydrocarbon exploration firm Apache operates and owns a 50% working interest in the block while Total holds the remaining 50% interest.

Expected to begin early next year, the campaign is estimated to last for 500 days.

The contract value for both the rigs is valued at $100m, including rig upgrades as well as integrated services.

Maersk Drilling noted that the CLOA is subject to finalisation of the formal contract and other customary conditions.

The Danish rig operator noted that it will provide an update ‘upon conclusion of a formal contract’.

Maersk Drilling COO Morten Kelstrup said: “We’re delighted to get this opportunity to add further to our long-standing relationship with Total through a two-rig contract, building on our previous collaboration on deepwater exploration projects and on Maersk Drilling’s recent experience with starting up operations in Suriname for Mærsk Developer.”

The high-specification Maersk Valient drillship has integrated managed pressure drilling (MPD) capability. Maersk Drilling built the ultra-deepwater drillship in 2013.

Comprising a DUAL pipe handling system with offline stand building capabilities, the Maersk Valiant is capable of accommodating 230 personnel.

Capable of operating at water depths of up to 10,000ft, the Maersk Developer is a DSS-21 column-stabilised semi-submersible rig. The rig was delivered in 2009.

In April, Total and Apache made a second oil discovery at the Sapakara West-1 well on Block 58 off the coast of Suriname.

Earlier this year, Apache and Total made the first oil discovery at the Maka Central-1 well on Block 58 and encountered 73m (240ft) of oil pay.