Blowout preventers were thrust into the spotlight during the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. The blowout preventer that so many people blamed for allowing the surge of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico was manufactured by Cameron International (UNKNOWN:CAM.DL). These devices can cost well in excess of a million dollars, but all deepwater drillers hope they never even have to be used.
Cameron has since been absolved of any wrong doing in the ongoing litigation, but BP (NYSE:BP) remains firmly entrenched in the trial as the customer and well owner. Despite the tarnish on its record, Cameron realizes that the deepwater space is far from tapped out and signed a joint venture with Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) this past winter so that both companies could dive deeper into the expanding market.
This joint venture poses direct competition to National Oilwell Varco (NYSE:NOV) which is the industry titan by a wide margin. Expert management of accretive acquisitions has placed National Oilwell Varco at the pinnacle of the deepwater equipment market, counting some 90% of the drillers as its customer in some form or another. Its blowout business has been growing rapidly and is one reason that Warren Buffett believes so highly in this company's prospects.
Recognizing this lucrative opportunity, General Electric (NYSE:GE) has slipped its foot in the door of the deepwater space with its own blowout preventer monitoring and servicing equipment. At the most recent Offshore Technology Conference, the company won two "Spotlight on Technology" awards for its RamTel Plus System with Remote Operated Vehicle Display and for its 5k Blind Shear Ram. Only one other company was bestowed the honor of winning more than one of the 15 Spotlight awards.
In most cases, companies would be fearful of this amount of new competition, but the continued growth of the deepwater arena has quelled most apprehension, as there appears to be more than enough business to go around. Evidence of this growth can be seen in NOV's blowout preventer revenue growth trajectory since 2005. Over this time frame, the group has grown from $85 million in business to over $1.2 billion in estimated 2013 sales.