Demand for offshore drilling rigs is directly related to the regional and worldwide levels of offshore exploration and development spending by oil & gas companies. The sustained decline in oil prices in the past from 2014 high had caused a significant decrease in the demand for offshore drilling services as many projects became uneconomical, resulting in fewer market tenders in the recent periods. Since the beginning of the downturn, drilling contractors have retired approximately 100 floaters and 50 jackups. As the market improves and demand increases, newer and high-spec rigs are expected to obtain contract awards first, increasing the likelihood that older and less capable ones do not return to the global active fleet. With the sign of recovery, the utilization rate has shown some improvement, along with contract length. However, the day rates are still to show significant improvement.
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Lower Operating Cost Driving the Market
Several major oil producing companies such as ExxonMobil, Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron has succeeded in bringing the breakeven prices from around high level of USD 80 per barrel to about or less than USD 40 per barrel between 2014 and 2016, in different regions. The decline in breakeven cost is mainly due to the improvement in enhanced ultimate recovery, lower drilling and completion cost and structural changes. Though the breakeven price has increased somewhat in the recent times, it is still lower than crude oil price. In June 2018, the Norwegian parliament approved the USD 5.85 billion development plan for the Johan Castberg project which is expected to start production in 2022. The development cost was cut since the 2013 plan to enable the project to break even at USD 31 per barrel rather than USD 80 per barrel.
Jackups is one of the Largest Market
Jackups are the most popular bottom supported MODUs generally used for up to 400 feet of water depth, i.e., shallow water. Approximately 125 jackups which are older than 30 years are idle, and contracts for approximately 65 jackups which are 30 years or older are expiring by the end of 2018 without follow-on work. Expenditure required to recertify these aging rigs are cost intensive and is expected to be scrapped or cold-stacked, which is expected to continue during 2018 and into 2019. The shallow-water jackups segment is on the road of recovery due to high commodity prices, and its utilization is anticipated to improve in the second half of 2018, as the rigs get deployed with increasing demand. Demand for jackups rigs is expected to be driven by the Middle East, followed by Europe and Asia between 2018 and 2020. Competition is also expected to be significant as the new builds which were ideals in the past few years also start competing.
The major players include:
- OceanRigUDWInc and
Brazil Holds the Largest Share in the Market
The Brazilian offshore industry has started to witness recovery as the state oil & gas firm Petrobras is trying to clean itself up from a corruption scandal and an increase in crude oil price. The market is driven mainly due to two reasons: opening up of new acreage to international oil companies and Petrobras’ requirement for more rigs as their current contract starts to expire. Also, a significant number of offshore rigs operating in Brazil are either more than 15 years old or have DP2. As Petrobras is looking for newer rigs with modern equipment, these older rigs less likely to secure the contract extension in the coming years. The entrance of international oil companies is expected to have a positive impact on the domestic market. The reforms in local regulations are expected to result in high participation as the companies compete for acreage that has a higher potential for being developed compared to past rounds.
Key Developments in the Market
July 2018: Transocean Ltd. received a contract for ultra-deepwater semisubmersible GSF Development Driller I, an 11-well contract (approximately 955 days) commencing offshore Australia in the first half of 2019 with Chevron Australia. Excluding integrated services, the estimated firm contract backlog is approximately USD 158 million. Additionally, the contract includes four one-well options.
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