As 2006 draws to a close, we are going to be looking forward at the prospects for the major segments of the offshore rig fleet in the coming years. We will start by examining the current level of future contracted time for the competitive jackup fleet and then comparing those numbers across the leading offshore drilling contractors' fleets.
More Contracts in Place
Hypothetically, if all of the rig days that were already contracted were to be meted out as quickly as possible following the start of the year, there would be no jackup time available for new contracts until September 2007. Of course, this is not the way things actually work out, since some rigs are contracted the entire year and well into 2008 or even 2009 while other rigs are only marginally contracted and mostly available for work in 2007. However, this comparison illustrates the length of the current contract backlog that many rigs have.
As a reference to the past state of the jackup fleet, the table below provides a comparison of the percentage of next year's rig time contracted at the start of December each of the last three years. As can be clearly seen, as the amount of contracted time increases, day rates have climbed as well.
Year End Jackup Rig Demand Comparison
We can look back at the percentage of jackup time for 2006 that was contracted as of one year ago. So, as of December 7, 2005, 51% of the available jackup rig time for 2006 was contracted. That is 18 percentage points below the current level of contracts in place for next year. Taken another way, there are 42% more contracted days currently in place for 2007 than there were one year ago for 2006.
Looking back another year to December 7, 2004, only 41% of the available jackup rig time for 2005 was contracted as of that date. That is 10 percentage points less than in 2005, and it is 28 percentage point fewer than today. Comparing the current level of future contracted time to the level in 2004, we can see that 81% more days are currently contracted for 2007 than were contracted for 2005 as of this day in 2004.
The obvious conclusion is that the level of jackup demand has increased significantly over the last two years. Additionally, during the last two years, the length of contracts has also increased noticeably, which has pushed contracts further out into the future. Along with the decrease in rig availability and increase in contract lengths, jackups have seen rapidly climbing day rates as operators have competed for rig time, as illustrated by the rising average day rates shown above.
The Companies Benefitting
The table below compares the level of future contracts among the drilling contractors that currently have at least 20 competitive jackup rigs. For each company, their current jackup fleet size is given, along with the levels of rig time contracted and the average day rates for those contracts for the next three years. These figures are based on the published contract information that is currently available in RigLogix and are not predictions.
Future Contracted Time by Manager
Looking at the table above, it is clear that Transocean has been the most successful at locking its jackup fleet into contracts for the next several years. With 88% of its jackup rig time for 2007 already contracted, Transocean will have its jackups working at near capacity throughout the year with little time for new work. At the same time, Transocean has only the fifth (out of six) highest level of day rates, which are about 35% lower than the day rate leader among this group and 10% below the worldwide average. It appears that Transocean has sacrificed per rig revenue in favor of longer term contract stability.
However, looking at Rowan's jackup fleet, it appears that sacrifice is not entirely necessary. While Rowan has one of the lower levels of contracted time for 2007, it does have the second highest level of contracted time for 2008. In addition, the company has the highest average jackup day rates of any of the leading offshore drilling contractors. That combination should lead to strong revenues for the company in 2007 and 2008.
At the other end of the spectrum, Pride has the lowest average day rates and the lowest level of contracted time among these leading contractors. For operators, Pride's jackup fleet presents a relative bargain by comparison to other contractors, and with almost half of the company's rig time during 2007 not yet contracted, there is plenty of opportunity to hire Pride rigs during 2007 and beyond.
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