The rig is expected to be delivered in September 2012 and can drill in water depths of up to 400ft and drilling depths of 30,000ft.

The initial plans are for the rig to drill 16 development wells from the Bravo Wellhead Platform, in the main field and the East Terrace, and to drill exploration wells on the G4/50 licence.

Salamander chief executive James Menzies said following our farm-in to block G4/50 surrounding our Bualuang production licence area, the company is now in a position to take on drilling rigs under long-term contract to explore, appraise and exploit expanded acreage base in the Gulf of Thailand.

"The signing of this long term drilling contract is a significant step forward for the Group in its plans to unlock the material upside in the Greater Bualuang area," added James.

For the B8/38 drilling programme, the Ensco-53 jack up rig will be mobilised immediately and a four well programme is planned in the B8/38 licence, comprising two development and two exploration wells.

Initially, two development wells will be drilled and exploration drilling is expected to follow in May.