Rowan's offshore rig utilization was 94% during the third quarter of 2003, versus 88% in the second quarter and 93% in the year-earlier period, and our average offshore day rate of $49,100 increased by $9,700, or 25%, from the second quarter and by $7,200, or 17%, from the year-earlier period. Land rig utilization was 72% during the third quarter of 2003, versus 76% in the year-earlier period, and our average land rig day rate of $11,000 increased by $300, or 3%, from the second quarter and by $1,400, or 15%, from the year-earlier period.
Bob Palmer, Chairman of the Board, commented, "We are pleased to return to profitability, but were disappointed with our third quarter performance. Unanticipated downtime in our Gulf of Mexico fleet hindered our drilling operations and our manufacturing and aviation financial results were less than we anticipated. Our longer-term outlook, however, remains highly favorable.
"We believe that foreign drilling markets will continue to attract competitive rigs, further tightening the Gulf of Mexico jack-up market. We are witnessing increasing opportunities abroad for our own harsh environment equipment. We expect that our average Gulf of Mexico jack-up day rates, which increased by 10% in the third quarter, will continue improving during the fourth quarter, and our fleet utilization will again increase. Of course, our optimism is based upon oil and natural gas prices sufficiently high enough to encourage exploration and development drilling by our customers. The prospects for our manufacturing operations are improving as backlog more than doubled during the third quarter to just over $45 million, which is a five-year high."
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