In case you're feeling drained by all the talk of deepwater drilling, let's pull closer ashore and look at the quarterly results of Rowan Companies
Rowan's offshore rig utilization dipped sequentially in the quarter, to 91%. That's not as bad as it sounds, because the primary culprit was a pair of rig relocations. As is the case with other shallow-water operators, Rowan is steadily moving many Gulf of Mexico jackups to more promising international basins. One such unit is now with Saudi Aramco, in that other gulf, for a three-year job. Another rig moved out of the North Sea, having won a very strong contract offshore Angola.
These magnificent international markets are doing great things for Rowan's average dayrates, which are up 11% over last year. This pricing, along with improved utilization, has helped drilling costs drop from 51% to 46% of revenue. Income from drilling operations is up 14% over last year, despite the mediocre Gulf of Mexico.
Actually, there are a few bright spots even here at home. One Gulf rig's recent contract with Apache
We've also seen a recent pickup in interest in deep-shelf drilling, and Rowan has top-quality gear fitted for this purpose. One example is the job that Rowan's doing at BP's
With natural gas prices finally asserting themselves this year, drilling activity ought to perk up noticeably over the coming months. I wouldn't regard Rowan as an also-ran. The shallow-water players are getting theirs, too.
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