Vantage Drilling Company has awarded Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) a turnkey contract for the construction of an ultra-deepwater drillship named Tungsten Explorer.

The drillship, which is worth $580m-590m, will be built at DSME’s shipyard in Okpo, Korea, and is scheduled to be delivered by 31 May 2013.

The 220-seat vessel will be capable of operating up to 12,000ft deep, with a total vertical drilling depth capacity of 40,000ft.

The hull design has a variable deck load of 20,000t and will be equipped with a DP3 dynamic positioning system, a 1,250 short ton hook load drilling package, and an offline pipe handling and trip saver system.

Vantage Drilling Company chairman and CEO Paul Bragg said the payment terms provide an initial down payment of around $100m, with the balance of the contract price due at delivery in May 2013.

“We plan to debt finance the down payment in connection with our planned refinancing of some of our existing high-cost debts,” said Bragg.

The company has secured a fixed price option for the purchase of an additional drillship.