I'm predicting more marriages like this one for the future: Five months after it was announced, a major merger of offshore drillers Transocean (NYSE:RIG) and GlobalSantaFe was finalized this past Tuesday.

The resulting company, which logic says could be the standard for the offshore drilling industry, will be able to call upon more than 140 semisubmersible rigs, drillships, jack-ups, and other types of offshore units -- by far the biggest fleet in the industry. Although based in Houston, it'll be active around the world.

The combined company will have an enterprise value of approximately $53 billion, $33 billion in current revenue backlog, and 318 million shares outstanding. It'll also retain Transocean's trading symbol: RIG.

Most important here is the company's overall role in the world's quest for oil and gas reserves. As time passes, an industry that once was centered in the U.S., with operations in a few other key areas, is becoming more and more dispersed, often in places that you and I wouldn't consider for vacation spots.

Beyond that, the drillers are increasingly likely to work for national oil companies, rather than for the publicly held producers. The bigger the driller, the more capable it will be of working well with governments that are often difficult to deal with.

So a Diamond Offshore (NYSE:DO), for instance, which once was pretty well limited to the Gulf of Mexico, now operates in places like the Middle East, the Far East, and South America.

Therefore, I'm convinced that, over time, the offshore drilling industry will shrink to far fewer -- but significantly larger -- companies. In addition to Diamond Offshore, which traditionally has been mentioned in the same breath with Transocean as the two "deepwater drillers," candidates for combinations could include Rowan (NYSE:RDC), Noble (NYSE:NE), and Ensco (NYSE:ESV).

With this in mind, I'd suggest that Fools watch the offshore drillers. They operate in a fascinating segment of the energy industry, are changing the places and ways we scour the planet for oil and gas, and generally trade at rock-bottom multiples that are progressively more difficult to justify. On those bases alone, the long-term future for these companies looks decidedly positive.  

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He does welcome your questions or comments. The Motley Fool has an internationally renowned disclosure policy.