The drillship is expected to provide Chevron and Pacific Drilling the opportunity to develop and deploy Dual Gradient Drilling technology during its activities in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Pacific Santa Ana, under construction in South Korea, represents the height of current drilling technology, with capabilities to operate in up to 12,000ft water depth and drill to over 35,000ft well depth, Pacific Drilling said.

Pacific Drilling is a deepwater drillship operator, which has an interest in six ultra-deepwater drillships. The first two vessels, which have been delivered and are under contract, are held in a 50% JV. The remaining four are expected to be delivered between September 2010 and July 2011, and will be wholly owned and operated by the company.