Diamond Offshore Reels in $610M in New Drilling Rig Contracts

Offshore drilling company Diamond Offshore said Wednesday it had recently secured $610 million worth of offshore drilling contracts, with the company CEO confident of sustainable long-term demand for offshore drilling services “for years to come.”

The contracts recently secured are for the harsh environment semi-submersible drilling rig Ocean GreatWhite in the U.K. North Sea, the semisubmersible Ocean Apex in Australia, and two 7th generation drillships – the Ocean BlackHornet and a Diamond-managed rig – in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

“These new contracts added approximately $610 million of backlog for the company. The new contracts are in addition to the $995 million of backlog reported as of July 1, 2022,” Diamond Offshore said.

Bernie Wolford, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We are pleased to announce these significant backlog additions. The contract for the Ocean GreatWhite is a testament to the capabilities of this high-specification harsh environment asset and comes at a time when energy security and longer-term demand in the sector are increasingly visible. With the rig now contracted, we will have three assets working in the UK sector of the North Sea, allowing us to better serve our customer base while growing our presence in an established market.”

The Ocean GreatWhite was awarded five wells, with an estimated duration of 300 days. Contract start is expected in the first quarter of 2023. The total contract value of the committed scope is approximately $80 million. The contract also includes priced options for up to eight additional wells.

Three deals for Ocean Apex drilling rig

The Ocean Apex has been awarded three new contracts for work on the Northwest Shelf of Australia. The first new award begins in the second quarter of 2023, with an estimated duration of 75 days. The second award is also for an estimated duration of 75 days, starting in direct continuation of the previous award. The third award has an estimated duration of 150 days with a start in 2024.

The combined awards add approximately $90 million of backlog to the Ocean Apex. Diamond Offshore did not share the identity of the clients.

Wolford added, “A potential fourth new contract currently under negotiation would fill out the remaining availability in 2023, and combined, keep the [Ocean Apex] rig fully contracted until late 2024.”

The Ocean BlackHornet has secured a two-year extension with its current client, BP, in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico in direct continuation of the rig’s current term. The two-year extension will keep the rig working until early 2025. The total contract value for the extension is approximately $290 million.

A Diamond-managed rig has been extended by its current client for work in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico for an additional one-year term in direct continuation of the rig’s current term. The contract value for this extension is approximately $150 million.

Considerably higher margins in 2023

Wolford noted, “With improved dayrates and approximately 75% of 2023 marketed capacity contracted, we have an opportunity to earn considerably higher margins in 2023.”

Diamond Offshore also shared its second quarter results. Contract drilling revenue for the second quarter totaled $177 million compared to $150 million in the first quarter of 2022. The increase in revenue was primarily driven by the Ocean Apex rig returning to active service under a new contract that startedin May 2022, completion of shipyard stays for the Ocean Endeavor and Ocean Patriot, and a full quarter of drilling operations for the Auriga rig. Contract drilling expense for the second quarter was relatively flat at $142 million compared to $145 million in the first quarter of 2022.

After eight years of continuous and exceptional performance, the Ocean BlackHawk completed its inaugural contract in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The rig has now mobilized to Senegal to join the Ocean BlackRhino where the duo will drill for Woodside at the Sangomar project. The Ocean Apex returned to work in May, and the Ocean Monarch completed its contract and was cold stacked.

Commenting on the outlook for the offshore drilling market, Wolford concluded, “The market continues to improve, as reflected by our recent fixtures for both semisubmersibles and drillships across multiple regions. Visible demand, energy security concerns, and tight supply could lead to sustainable demand for our drilling services for years to come.”

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