Prior to BP's
It's a great time to not be CEO of Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded and sank in late April. While the company has so far avoided the ignominy experienced by BP, there are still lingering questions about responsibility for the explosion and subsequent oil spill, recently tallied at 4.9 million barrels.
Transocean reports that as of the end of the second quarter, 206 actions or claims have been filed against the company. The company reiterated on its conference call that it has a broad indemnity in its contract with BP, which is posted alongside the quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing. BP has countered that Transocean will not necessarily be indemnified if it is found to be grossly negligent, but the language in Article 25 of the contract would seem to suggest otherwise:
The indemnifying party [BP] shall protect, release, defend, indemnify and hold harmless the indemnified party [Transocean] or parties from and against any and all claims, demands, causes of action, damages, costs, expenses ... without limit and without regard to the cause or causes thereof, including ... the negligence of any person or persons, including that of the indemnified party, whether such negligence be sole, joint or concurrent, active, passive or gross or any other theory of legal liability.
If you look at the price chart on Transocean for the past few months, Mr. Market's thoughts on the subject could be interpreted as "who the heck knows?" That said, comfort now seems to be growing that Transocean, as with Anadarko Petroleum
As far as market conditions, Transocean described the environment for both deepwater and ultradeepwater drilling as "challenging," with rig oversupply compounded by the Gulf moratorium.
Midwater floaters (rigs that operate in 1,000 to 4,500 feet of water) may receive some unwelcome pressure from idle deepwater rigs moving downmarket for work. Finally, jack-ups face their own oversupply issues, but as we've seen in the case of Rowan Companies
While I would probably steer investors to the relative safety of Ensco
Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. Check out his Motley Fool CAPS profile or follow his articles using Twitter or RSS. The Fool owns shares of Devon Energy and Ensco. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.