Energy is a hot topic in Washington, and President Obama's desire to increase domestic oil production means offshore drilling is back on the table. Sure there's that pesky oil spill that happened in 2010 -- but that was last year, we can't dwell on the past, right?

All sarcasm aside, how do offshore drillers stack up? Some like Hercules Offshore (Nasdaq: HERO) have fully recovered from a stock nosedive last summer but there's still value to be had in the sector. Below is a list of five offshore drillers who should benefit from positive political forces going forward.


Market Cap

P/E Ratio

Drilling Units

Seadrill (NYSE: SDRL) $8.04 Billion 7.0 59
Hercules Offshore $668.3 Million n/a 50
Transocean (NYSE: RIG) $25.96 Billion 27.2 139
Noble Corporation (NYSE: NE) $11.65 Billion 15.3 76
Diamond Offshore (NYSE: DO) $11.05 Billion 11.6 46

Seadrill and Transocean are two great ways to play the growing ultra-deepwater drilling trend. Today Seadrill just announced an $850 million five-year ultra-deepwater drilling contract off the coast of Mexico. And even DryShips (Nasdaq: DRYS) is adding deepwater capabilities in its Ocean Rig unit.

Hercules Offshore, Noble and Diamond Offshore are all plays on shallower drilling through their jackups, semisubmersibles, submersibles, and drillships. Hercules Offshore in particular has large ties to the Gulf of Mexico and will take advantage of opportunities if drilling opens up there.

With the BP oil spill in our rear view, and a consortium of oil companies creating the Marine Well Containment Company, it has become safe to push offshore drilling again, politically. It's the best way to increase domestic oil production and all of these companies should benefit as a result.