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Meanwhile, worldwide utilization remained unchanged at 79.7% as of Friday, November 11, despite a three-unit decline in the global offshore fleet, according to ODS-Petrodata. The rig-tracking agency also reported no changes in the rig supply/demand balance in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico with 65 units under contract on a total fleet of 116 rigs, or 56% utilization.
Despite an increase in permitting over the last 60 days, the GoM exhibits the lowest utilization levels globally as the region grapples with tighter regulation following the 2010 Macondo well blow out.
However, the story is much different when the topic shifts to demand for ultra-deepwater units. Seadrill announced a contract extension with ExxonMobil for the UDW semi-submersible West Aquarius, which will mobilize from Southeast Asia to the North Atlantic. The two-year contract extension is valued at $530,000, excluding mobilization fees, with ExxonMobil retaining an option to extend the contract for two additional years.
And Diamond Offshore announced a six-month extension for the Sedco Express to work offshore Israel. The 7,500 foot semi-submersible was priced at $500,000 per day.
Elsewhere, Diamond Offshore revealed several new fixtures in its monthly fleet update, including a six-month $325,000 per day contract with ExxonMobil for the Ocean Victory. The fourth generation semi-submersible will work in the GoM. Other fixtures include a $230,000 per day contract for the Ocean Saratoga, a 2nd generation semi-submersible, which is returning to work on a one-well program for Walter Oil & Gas in the GoM along with new fixtures or contract extensions in the UK North Sea, Egypt, and Vietnam. The latter involves a 5th generation semi-submersible, the Ocean Monarch, which earned a four-year contract with Niko Resources for $385,000 per day. The contract brings a $40,000 increase over the unit’s prior rig rate.
Meanwhile, Transocean Ltd. announced an increase in downtime for its fleet during the fourth quarter 2011 as the company scrambles to meet BOP re-certification on its deepwater units or expedites rig maintenance. Approximately one third of Transocean’s downtime is associated with new contract preparation in the fourth quarter 2011 and 2012.
Elsewhere, Transocean reported two new mid-water contracts in the North Sea and a third in India, along with two new jack up contracts in Nigeria, one of which will return an idled high spec jack up for a one-year period at a $143,000 per day, slightly above prevailing market rates.