GOM Drilling Up 58.2% in 2000

The 20% boost to exploration and production budgets this year should result in record results for offshore drilling, especially the Gulf of Mexico, according to drilling contractor Global Marine Inc.'s annual Summary of Current Offshore Rig Economics --- SCORE. In November and December 2000, GOM drilling increased 3.5%, and soared 58.2% from a year ago. Worldwide, drilling was up 49.7% from 1999.

Jack-up drilling also jumped in the past year, up 68.5% from a year ago, while semisubmersible drilling was up 23.8%.

"Offshore drilling markets enjoyed significant recovery in both utilization and dayrates during 2000," said Global Marine CEO Bob Rose. "With E&P company budgets nearly 20% higher, the outlook for 2001 is very bullish - particularly for jack-up rigs, which may revisit 1997 highs."

Rose noted that the drilling industry's last recovery period three years ago was cut short by an economic downturn in Asia, an increase in production by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Iraq's oil exports allowed by the United Nations.

"These factors are not there today," said Rose. "If OPEC has learned discipline, as they seem to have done, there will be a longer recovery this time."

SCORE, published monthly, compares the profitability of current mobile offshore drilling rig rates to the profitability of rates using 1980-81 as its baseline, the peak of the offshore drilling cycle when speculative new rig construction was common. Twenty years ago, when SCORE averaged 100%, new contract dayrates equaled the sum of daily cash operating costs and nearly $700 per day per million dollars invested.

With an active fleet of 33 mobile rigs worldwide, the Houston-based company is considered one of the largest providers of offshore drilling equipment services.

Carolyn Davis, Houston

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