A Profitable Petrobras Partnership

On the face of it, the deal's pretty much more of the same for Transocean (NYSE: RIG  ) -- another day, another massive drilling contract.

The twist to this newbuild drillship order, however, is that Transocean is following a lease-to-own plan for the next 20 years. Drilling contractors like Transocean, Noble (NYSE: NE  ) , and Pride International (NYSE: PDE  ) normally pay out of pocket to construct these massive vessels -- sometimes with a contract in hand, and sometimes on spec.

The parties ponying up for the $750 million construction cost are energy giant Petrobras (NYSE: PBR  ) and financing partner Mitsui & Co. (Nasdaq: MITSY  ) . The Brazilian behemoth has the first 10 years of the rig's services locked up, with an option to renew with Transocean for another decade. These are some of the longest contract terms I've ever seen. It's a fantastic deal for the Duke of the Deepwater.

What's equally intriguing to me, though, is the extremely close relationship between the Brazilian and Japanese firms involved in this deal. Petrobras and Mitsui are basically BFFs (that's "best friends forever," for the pop-culture impaired).

Upon further investigation, I've found that these two companies are jointly pursuing all kinds of fascinating projects. One biofuels endeavor seeks to combine sugarcane ethanol production and green power production using the resulting waste biomass. Another partnership plans to build a network of ethanol pipelines to facilitate Brazil's fuel exports. The companies are even active here in the States, probing the possibility of applying Petrobras' oil shale technology to Utah's multibillion-barrel resource base.

I've completely overlooked Mitsui in the past, but it could be a compelling play for those looking to piggyback on Petrobras' rise to prominence. The company isn't getting much attention over in Motley Fool CAPS. What do you think of the firm's future?

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Fool contributor Toby Shute is ranked 104 out of more than 110,000 CAPS players. He goes by the name of TMFSmashy. He also doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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