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Oil and Gas Energy News Update

Friday, July 15, 2011

Utilization Rebounding In GOM

- Utilization Rebounding In GOM

Friday, July 15, 2011
Rigzone Staff
by Trey Cowan

While on the mend, Gulf of Mexico offshore drilling activities, are below levels experienced prior to last year's blowout. Specifically, combined utilization for drillships, semisubs, and jackups is approximately 300 basis points off pace, averaging 57% in 2Q11 versus 60% for the region during 1Q10.

Of the three types of rigs, semisubs are faring the worst on a comparative basis to results prior to Macondo. We note that during the first quarter of 2010 semisub utilization was nearly 93%. Today, the average utilization for semisubs in the Gulf of Mexico is 71%.

In the most recent update by the BOEMRE, 12 of the 18 rigs currently active in the GOM deepwaters were semisubs. However, there are 25 semisubs in total in the region including five that are cold stacked and two ready stacked. Given the costs involved in bringing stacked rigs back to marketable conditions, the overall semisub utilization rates may continue to languish for a while.

Both drillships and jackups utilization rates are now better than pre-Macondo levels. Drillships averaged 91% during 2Q10, up 300 basis points from 88% in 1Q10. And while jackup utilization rates are higher, there are actually ten fewer rigs now working in the region compared to 2010 levels. So the jackup utilization rate of 48% in 2Q10, given its smaller base, is not an apples-to-apples comparison versus its 1Q10 rate of 46%.

Recent News from the Region
  • Shell was approved by BOEMRE for a supplemental exploration plan to drill four appraisal wells at its Appomattox discovery at Mississippi Canyon 348. The Deepwater Nautilus is slated to drill the wells.
  • Marine Well Containment Company (MWCC) recently selected Aker Solutions to provide design, procurement, and fabrication of the subsea containment and diverter assembly, needed to further expand its existing containment system.
  • Cobalt expects permits for its Ligurian #2 and North Platte prospects in the US Gulf of Mexico. The ENSCO 8503 will drill both wells upon its return from French Guiana in the third quarter of 2011, assuming it passes a routine Coast Guard inspection upon returning to US waters.
  • NEXEN recently sublet the Ocean Saratoga from Taylor Energy for a plug & abandonment project at its Green Canyon 50 #1 well. Also, NEXEN received a permit for its Kakuna prospect and will use the ENSCO 8502 to drill.
  • BHP Billiton recently began drilling with the GSF Development Driller I at its Mad Dog North prospect in Green Canyon 738. This is the third recent permit approval that BHP has received that was not for a water injection well. The other two approvals were for development wells at Shenzi.

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