In his latest OSV Day Rates column due out later this month, correspondent Jerry Greenberg says that the news in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico is good. Rig activity continues to increase, which translates into more work for offshore service vessel operators.
At the end of 2011, according to IHS-Petrodata, Houston, 71 rigs were contracted compared to 61 a year ago. Most OSV and crewboat operators in the U.S. Gulf have seen day rates and utilization increase each month since September. While rates and utilization continue to lag behind a year ago, this is good news.
There have been nice rate increases in the Gulf’s large supply vessel fleet. This is due to the reduction of large technologically advanced OSVs in the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon disaster — an estimated 50 or more. As a result, operators with approved deepwater exploration plans and drilling permits have been chartering any available large capacity deepwater vessels.
Operators that are confident of being awarded deepwater drilling permits are also contracting deepwater vessels. This is a big reason why deepwater exploration activity is expected to continue to increase this year. Another big reason is that more newbuild deepwater rigs are expected to enter the U.S. Gulf and a few that mobilized elsewhere during the drilling moratorium are returning.
This bodes well for 2012 and beyond.