• 5 minutes Iran Says It Arrested 17 CIA Spies, Some Sentenced To Death
  • 9 minutes Will We Ever See 100$+ OIL?
  • 13 minutes Iran downs US drone. No military response . . Just Destroy their economy. Can Senator Kerry be tried for aiding enemy ?
  • 1 min Platts says if Iran's 2 mm bbls exports comes back on market oil goes to $40 . . . What about new Permian pipelines 2.47 mm bbls coming ? . . . WHAT IF BOTH IRAN AND PERMIAN TOTAL 4.47 mm added bbls . . . OMG !
  • 20 hours Iran Loses $130,000,000 Oil Revenue Every Day They Continue Their Games . . . .Opportunity Lost . . . Will Never Get It Back. . . . . LOL .
  • 12 hours Renewables provided only about 4% of total global energy needs in 2018
  • 5 hours Today President Trump Questioned U.S. Policing the Straits of Hormuz for Rich Asian Countries. Allies Britain and Japan were asked to participate. Said NO. US spends $100 Billion/year Protecting Mideast Shipping Lanes!
  • 2 hours Millions of Barrels of Iranian Oil Are Piled Up in China’s Ports
  • 44 mins So You Think We’re Reducing Fossil Fuel? — Think Again
  • 4 hours N.Y. Governor Signs Climate Bill
  • 1 day Berkeley becomes first U.S. city to ban natural gas in new homes
  • 9 hours Oil Giant Saudi Arabia Is Set to Start First Wind-Power Plant
  • 2 hours U.S. Administration Moves To End Asylum Protections For Central Americans
  • 1 day How is E&P of Marginal Oil on the UKCS Similar to the Shale Oil Operations in the US?
  • 9 hours EIA Reports Are Fraudulent : EIA Is Conspiring With Trump To Keep Oil Prices Low
  • 1 day Trump vs. Xi Trade Battle, Running Commentary from Conservative Tree House
Dan Dicker

Dan Dicker

Dan Dicker is a 25 year veteran of the New York Mercantile Exchange where he traded crude oil, natural gas, unleaded gasoline and heating oil…

More Info

Is it Time to Buy the Offshore Drillers?

A strong earnings report from Transocean (RIG) has everyone understandably wondering:  Is it finally time to buy the offshore drillers?  I have been exceedingly cautious about offshore and particularly the Deepwater offshore opportunity that RIG delivers, yet share prices are starting to reach such low levels that there is a case to be made for ‘bond-like’ buying of Transocean shares here. Let’s look at both sides of the offshore case again, now that offshore names are seeing their 52-week lows.  

It was before the shale oil craze, all the way back in 2007, that Transocean was the world beater in energy – with a near monopoly in Deepwater rigs to lease and with oil soaring towards $150 a barrel, the company couldn’t build or lease out its specialized fleet fast enough.  But with the increased production of shale oil that began in the Bakken, which in 2011 translated even more deeply into Eagle Ford finally the Permian basin production, interest in new deep-water projects was practically abandoned.  The economics are simple:  Oil from shale can cost less than $50 a barrel to retrieve, sometimes even going as low as $30 a barrel – but drilling a well four miles down, seven miles off the coast of Texas or Louisiana is going to run nearly 50% more, with a higher and more costly failure rate, should the project fizzle.  

And there, as simply as I can represent it, lies the difficulty that offshore firms found themselves.  Having issued massive paper in building, upgrading and maintaining super sophisticated offshore fleets, the premium for the use of those rigs – the day rates – began to swoon.  

And have continued to, for the past 2 years.  Bonds of RIG and other offshore drillers, barely above junk, and dividends that, having been promised, were difficult to cut (RIG did that disastrously once), put super pressure on shares, despite a stock market that has soared.  

Now let’s look at the bright side: One thing that we can be sure of is that offshore is not in a permanent swoon.  The opportunities and reserve estimates of some of the offshore assets in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Brazil and Mozambique, in Vietnam, Mexico and Indonesia – these are bankable assets that the oil world will have to return to,  when the economics are again right as they were 4 years ago.

But is it happening now?  Recent results from Transocean, blowing out estimated earnings have some indication that some of these negative trends are bottoming.  Some day rates have been reported to be increasing, including one expensive lease from Total (TOT), more convinced than most that the bottom is near if not already past.  But earnings good news this quarter from RIG is more of a smoke and mirror game of cutting costs and unlocking value through their recent MLP offering Transocean partners (RIGP) than a full turnaround.  Their risks remain the unwind of long term leases and what new leases will be available and at what rates they will command – if they lease out at all.  This remains the overhang I do not see changing so quickly, at least today.

However. (Taking big breath)

Transocean is in reasonable enough shape for me to proclaim their 6.6% dividend safe. <Full disclosure: the last time I said precisely that (on CNBC air) I was 100% wrong--But RIG, I don’t believe, can again risk the shareholder uproar that accompanied their last major dividend cut>.  No one can catch a falling knife and I can’t do that here, but I have stayed away so long from the sector that I must imagine the worst losses on this sector are most definitely in.  Where can RIG go to?  $32?  $30?  It’s trading decisively under $40 a share now.  

Finally, when I turned negative on offshore I was very much alone – now virtually every analyst is also negative offshore drillers.  That’s always a decent sign to me that it’s time to perhaps adjust my view.  My trader’s motto:  Everyone can’t be right at once.  

Bottom line:  With a longer term outlook, I think you can start to buy Transocean shares here – and start looking at some others as well; (Seadrill (SDRL), Diamond Offshore (DO) and Ensco (ESV)). I take off my hex on RIG shares here at $38.  Finally.

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News
Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play