The writing's been on the hull for a while now.
First there was Petrobras' (NYSE: PBR ) decision to hire 40 rigs through 2017, in order to plunder its offshore prizes. More recently, there were the new rig orders by Transocean (NYSE: RIG ) and Atwood Oceanics (NYSE: ATW ) . We even caught a glimpse of a potentially game-changing pairing in the deepwater.
In short, it should really surprise no one that Transocean has reported a record dayrate on its new five-year contract with Eni (NYSE: E ) . The contract driller will be pulling down $650,000 per day, slightly edging out the terms of Seadrill's six-year engagement with Petrobras.
The market for deepwater floating rigs remains incredibly tight. Petrobras, in an interesting twist, recently agreed to finance the construction of a new rig, to be operated by Transocean, and lease it for up to 20 years. Contract drillers usually self-finance their newbuild construction programs.
This sort of deal reflects the major, long-term nature of Petrobras' plans. If you read the company's Vision 2020 roadmap, you'll see that Petrobras is poised to become even more of a powerhouse than it is today.
You don't need to invest directly in the big dog, however. From Transocean and Noble (NYSE: NE ) to FMC Technologies (NYSE: FTI ) and Oceaneering International (NYSE: OII ) , there's no shortage of deepwater dance partners. If you're itching to take the dive, it's up to you to get to know the individual firms and find the one with a business model you understand and a future that's brighter than Mr. Market expects. The latter part is getting tougher all the time, and none of these companies is a cheap date. That said, there might be a bargain or two still floating out there.