It feels like only yesterday that Ensco International
With massive discoveries by the likes of Chevron
I should point out that the shallow-water jackup market isn't chopped liver. Sure, it's sagging today; Ensco's jackup utilization fell to 72% in the quarter, from 80% last quarter and 95% in the second quarter of 2008. But Ensco's high-margin, efficient operations in the shallow water have kicked off billions in free cash flow over the years, and they will remain a valuable piece of the enterprise. Yes, Pride International
So now that Ensco has funded more than half of its new venture into deep waters, is the firm eyeing its next round of rigs? Actually, no. CEO Dan Rabun said the company has its hands full with the current seven-vessel rollout. The most probable use of excess cash generated over the near term would be a return of capital to shareholders. That's a rare circumstance for an oil service firm these days, and it speaks to Ensco's financial savvy.