Seadrill says tendering and contracting for ultra-deepwater rigs worldwide has improved significantly this year. Available rig capacity has also been absorbed rapidly.
Despite the fall-out from the Macondo incident last year, the company says utilization rate in the ultra-deepwater market (up to 7,500 ft, or 2,286 m water depth) has remained nearly 100%.
In the US Gulf of Mexico, increased clarity concerning for new drilling permit requirements has led to renewed interest in securing rig capacity. Seadrill expects this positive trend to continue.
The company has also noticed a surge in ultra-deepwater rig demand in West Africa, Southeast Asia, and Brazil. As a result, available rig capacity has diminished rapidly. The market appears to be close to a supply/demand balance, and based on known programs, the number of available rig years in 2011 could drop to less than two rig years and to less than 10 rig years in 2012.
Over the longer term, Seadrill adds, the increase in rigs under construction could restrain the upside potential of day rates from late 2013 and into 2014. Since last November, it adds, the number of new ultra-deepwater rigs on order has risen to 31.
Nevertheless, two recent five-year contracts awarded for the Gulf of Mexico with start-up in late 2013 underline the importance of new and modern equipment and on the sound environment for ultra-deepwater field developments.
This trend has led to the order of various new rigs, some with long-term contracts [U][I]but most ordered on speculation[/I][/U]. (emphasis mine)