When Pride International (NYSE:PDE) disappointed with a below-market contract signing on a 2010 deepwater drilling date with Noble Energy (NYSE:NBL), I told investors not to draw industrywide conclusions from the dayrate dip.

At the time, one piece of supporting evidence was a strong, multiyear dayrate awarded to Transocean (NYSE:RIG) by Brazilian heavyweight Petrobras (NYSE:PBR). Now Transocean is out with yet another healthy contract, handed down by the very same explorer that signed up Pride's South Pacific for a song.

Noble, a skillfully run independent E&P that I don't say nearly enough about, has hired Transocean's ultra-deepwater Sedco Express for a 15-month stint at roughly $530,000 per day. The drilling location was not disclosed.

This dayrate is slightly better than in the aforementioned Petrobras award, and 65% higher than Pride's piddling per diem. That's one reason I'm comfortable calling Pride a "deepwater B-lister."

Before you start projecting half-million-dollar dayrates out as far as the eye can see, it's important to consider that deepwater capacity is quite tight in 2010. Newbuilds ordered up by the likes of ENSCO International (NYSE:ESV) and Atwood Oceanics (NYSE:ATW) will continue to hit the water over the next few years, easing capacity in 2011 and beyond. You can expect contract signings for those out years to come in a fair bit lower than this handsome haul by Transocean.

Atwood Oceanics is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Petrobras is an Income Investor recommendation. Dip into any of our Foolish newsletters free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. Check out his CAPS profile or follow his articles using Twitter or RSS. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.