OSLO: Seadrill and Gulf Drilling International (GDI) have formed a jointly owned rig firm to conduct exploration on behalf of Qatar Petroleum from 2020 to 2024, Seadrill said late on Thursday. GulfDrill, a 50-50 joint venture between Seadrill and GDI, will initially operate five so-called jackup rigs on a $656 million contract with Qatar Petroleum. It did not say where the exploration would take place. The state-owned energy firm also has the option to order further drilling with an additional contract value of up to $700 million.The GulfDrill venture will charter two of its rigs from Oslo- and New York-listed Seadrill and three more from an unnamed shipyard. “We are excited to establish a significant presence in an important jackup market and to partner with GDI,” Seadrill Chief Executive Anton Dibowitz said in a statement.“GulfDrill will give us the opportunity to improve our access to a market that is expected to show significant growth over the next years and strengthen our relationship with Qatar Petroleum,” Dibowitz added.