Aside from some unexpected downtime, Noble (NYSE:NE) laid the groundwork for a strong earnings season for its offshore drilling peers. Major oil and natural gas producers have announced record capital expenditures, and it is clear that the money has already started flowing. According to the release, that money is finding its way around the entire globe as well.

Two key metrics to look at when analyzing Noble and its peers are day rates and utilization. Both of these figures rose from the previous quarter's levels, and that bodes well for the entire market. If downtime can be limited, then it would be surprising to see this company falter in 2013.

Joel South has no position in any stocks mentioned. Taylor Muckerman owns shares of Ensco. The Motley Fool recommends Seadrill. The Motley Fool owns shares of Seadrill and Transocean. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.