While on the mend, Gulf of Mexico offshore drilling activities are below levels experienced prior to last year's blowout. Specifically, combined utilization (for drillships, semisubs, and jackups) is approximately 300 basis points off pace, averaging 57% in 2Q11 versus 60% for the region during 1Q10.
Of the three types of rigs, semisubs are faring the worst on a comparative basis to results prior to Macondo. We note that during the first quarter of 2010 semisub utilization was nearly 93%. Today, the average utilization for semisubs in the Gulf of Mexico is 71%.
In the most recent update by the BOEMRE, 12 of the 18 rigs currently active in the GOM deepwaters were semisubs. However, there are 25 semisubs in total in the region including five that are cold stacked and two ready stacked. Given the costs involved in bringing stacked rigs back to marketable conditions, the overall semisub utilization rates may continue to languish for a while.
Both drillships and jackups utilization rates are now better than pre-Macondo levels. Drillships averaged 91% during 2Q10, up 300 basis points from 88% in 1Q10. And while jackup utilization rates are higher, there are actually ten fewer rigs now working in the region compared to 2010 levels. So the jackup utilization rate of 48% in 2Q10, given its smaller base, is not an apples-to-apples comparison versus its 1Q10 rate of 46%.
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