Thursday, May 15, 2008

Petrobras (PBR) Hordes the World's Deep Sea Water Drillers

Wow, interesting factoid this morning via Bloomberg - Petrobras (PBR) has leased 80% of the world's deepest sea drilling rigs. I mentioned when I sold off Diamond Offshore Drilling (DO) I was very interested in moving that money (on a pullback) to Noble (NE) due to its Petrobras connection [Apr 25: Bookkeeping: Selling Diamond Offshore Drilling - Will buy Noble Later] but frankly it looks like every driller is going to have a Petrobras connection at this rate. Again, Petrobras in my book, will become the largest company (by market capitalization) on the planet (surpassing Exxon) [May 13: Petrobras (PBR) Business as Usual]

Why do we care about this news? We like... no... love shortages (as investors). Shortages create higher prices. Shortages of deep sea rigs mean higher prices for rig operators - think Transocean (RIG), Diamond Offshore (DO) and Atwood Oceanics (ATW) specifically. Also some Pride International (PDE) and Noble (NE) thrown in there....
  • Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil's state-controlled oil company, leased about 80 percent of the world's deepest-drilling offshore rigs to explore prospects including the Western Hemisphere's biggest discovery in decades.
  • Petrobras, as the Rio de Janeiro-based company is known, is hiring rigs that can drill in at least 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) of water, Chief Executive Officer Jose Sergio Gabrielli said in an interview last week. The world has 21 such vessels, according to, which tracks the offshore drilling industry.
  • The company's ``insatiable'' demand is forcing producers including Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP Plc to pay more as they compete for the remaining units, said Kjell Erik Eilertsen and Truls Olsen, analysts at Fearnley Fonds AS in Oslo. Explorers that don't have rigs under contract may delay projects or pay rents of more than $600,000 a day.
  • Petrobras is negotiating for as many as 17 more vessels to probe the Tupi discovery and neighboring fields, said Bill Herbert, an analyst at Simmons & Co. International in Houston. The company already controls almost seven times as much capacity as the next biggest user of rigs that can drill in 7,500 feet of water, according to research by Dahlman Rose.
  • U.S. and European oil companies probably will pay $50,000 more per day to lease deepwater rigs during the next three years because Petrobras has already contracted for so much of the worldwide fleet, Nokta said. Such units are designed to cope with high seas and hold equipment needed to bore beneath the seafloor and identify oil and gas deposits as much as 6 miles below the ocean surface.
  • Petrobras has signed leases this year for six deepwater rigs, more than twice as many as any other producer, according to Dahlman Rose. The contracts have an average duration of five years and four months at rates of $410,000 to $580,000 a day.
  • Exxon Mobil leased Seadrill's West Polaris unit last month for $600,000 a day, Nokta said. BP agreed on May 1 to pay $540,000 a day for a Pride International Inc. drillship, $60,000 a day more than the company committed to three months earlier for an identical Pride rig, he said.
  • Petrobras plans to start pumping oil in the first quarter of 2009 from Tupi, the biggest find in the Americas since Mexico's 1976 discovery of the Cantarell field in the Gulf of Mexico. Petrobras also is evaluating as many as seven nearby fields, including the Carioca prospect, Gabrielli said.
Folks we are not running out of oil; but we are running out of oil at easy, cheap to get to places. Much of Petrobras' discovery is in oceans at depths of 4-5 miles. Very few rigs on the globe will have capability to drill there. Most large caps mutual funds out there are loaded with the Exxon's (XOM) of the world (yawn) - they are stuck in the 1990s, and own an asset that is only benefiting from higher crude prices - not an ability to meaningfully expand production in the coming decade. The 2010s will be Petrobras era; that's what they should be owning. But they are, as always, behind the curve.

And for investment, you simply must own these deep sea oil drillers - I believe both Atwood Oceanics and Pride International will be bought out within 18-24 months, the latter already looks well on its way [May 2: Restarting Pride International as Takeover Bait]

That said, the next time crude corrects to $110 you will see all these stocks hammered as if the next 3-5 year story is over. That's lemmings for you.

Long Petrobras, Pride International, Atwood Oceanics in fund; long Pride International in personal account

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