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August 18, 2005

Aker to enter offshore drilling market

In its latest quarterly report, Aker ASA reveals that it plans to enter the offshore rig market and build new sixth-generation platforms at Aker Kvaerner's yards in Norway.

"Increased demand for advanced, sixth-generation drilling platforms for deployment in challenging waters and limited worldwide yard capacity for building such tonnage, offer an interesting strategic business opportunity for the Aker Group," says the company.

Aker says its exploration of the potential offered by this opportunity has included paid-for studied conducted at Aker Kvaerner for further development of previous platform concepts. So far, Aker has the technical and commercial responsibility.

Plans are for an Aker subsidiary to enter into contracts with Aker Kvaerner later this fall for building two sixth-generation drilling platforms for delivery in 2007 and 2008.

The contract will include an option to build additional platforms of a similar type.

Aker Kvaerner will build the advanced drilling platforms at its yards in Norway.

Aker says the rigs "will be unique in the market."

" The platforms will feature great load-bearing capacity and highly effective dual RamRig drilling gear," says Aker, adding that "the new platforms are efficient units for drilling deep-water exploration and production wells in remote waters and in Arctic seas. Aker Kvaerner has extensive experience in designing and building drilling rigs and semi-submersible production platforms. The company’s RamRig drilling packages have been tested extensively and documented to be efficient."

Aker Drilling is the provisional name of the company that will own the new series of offshore rigs built under the Aker umbrella.

Non-Group investors will be invited to become co-owners of the new company, in which Aker foresees maintaining an ownership interest in the range of 20 to 50 percent, after the company has been fully capitalized.

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