Tulsa-based contract drilling company Helmerich & Payne Inc. said Tuesday it has agreements in place with eight U.S. exploration and production companies to build and operate 12 of its proprietary FlexRigs, which are to begin onshore operations in fiscal 2012.

The names of the customers and the financial terms of the agreements were not disclosed.

"After a severe industry downturn in recent years, it is satisfying to report that since March 2010 we have now announced a total of 57 new builds, representing a 30% increase in the number of FlexRigs in our fleet," said CEO Hans Helmerich. "Given the increasing challenges and level of complexity related to drilling oil and gas wells today, demand for new and highly capable land rigs in the U.S. continues to grow..."

In the past six years the company said it has built 197 FlexRigs under multi-year term contracts. Including the 12 announced new builds, 26 remain under construction. About three rigs are expected to be completed per month. Once the current orders are fulfilled the company's global land fleet would number 247 FlexRigs, with 236 assigned to the U.S. land market.

At the end of June the drilling operator's U.S. land segment had 213 active rigs out of an existing fleet of 245 rigs; the international land segment had 17 active rigs out of a fleet of 24 rigs; and the offshore segment had seven active rigs out of a fleet of nine rigs.