DryShips, a provider of marine transportation services for dry bulk cargoes, has signed an agreement to acquire approximately 30.4% of the issued and outstanding shares and voting rights in Ocean Rig, an offshore drilling contractor.

Ocean Rig owns and operates two ultra deepwater, semi submersible drilling rigs, built to operate in water depth capacity of between 7,500 to 10,000 feet. Both rigs are presently on charter to ExxonMobil and Shell.

George Economou, chairman and CEO of DryShips, has also, in separate transactions, acquired approximately 4.4% of the share capital of Ocean Rig.

Mr Economou said: DryShips’ acquisition of a strategic stake in Ocean Rig is an exciting step. Ocean Rig is uniquely positioned to immediately capitalize on the very strong demand for ultra deepwater drilling rigs that is expected to prevail over the next five to ten years as exploration and production of fossil fuels moves further offshore into deeper waters.