Offshore Drillers Outperformed Multi-service Providers in 2012, Says IHS

Softening operating environment onshore North America is chief culprit impacting share prices for the “big four” service providers  

Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:01 pm EST


"said John B. Parry, principal energy analyst at IHS and author of the IHS Herold Offshore Contract Drillers Peer Group Analysis."

After enduring a turbulent period following the Macondo blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in May 2010, offshore drilling companies have shown their resilience by outperforming their muscular cousins — the ‘big four” major multi-service providers including Baker Hughes, Halliburton, Schlumberger and National Oil Well Varco, according to a new IHS (NYSE: IHS) report.


The Philadelphia Oil Service Index trailed the S&P 500 by about 10 percent in 2012 and slightly more than 20 percent for the two years 2011 to 2012.  Shares of the “big four” slid an average of 13 percent during 2011 to 2012; although National Oil Well Varco exhibited a positive three percent return. While the six offshore drillers had an average return of two percent during 2011 to 2012, a nine percent return was recorded when excluding the Macondo-hobbled Transocean, said IHS.


“In 2012, the offshore drillers’ peer group started to show signs of recovery and reinvestment, which is continuing in 2013,” said John B. Parry, principal energy analyst at IHS and author of the IHS Herold Offshore Contract Drillers Peer Group Analysis. “With the exception of litigation- plagued Transocean, the public equities of offshore drilling industry appear to have largely adjusted to the post-Macondo environment, helped by rising rig utilization and strong day rates for rig contract renewals. We expect these favorable renewals to lead to improved operating margins for all of the offshore drillers in 2013 and 2014.”


Added Parry: “This recovery comes, in large part, thanks to higher day rates for rigs and demand for drilling in deepwater environments, notably Brazil, East and West Africa, and the Gulf of Mexico. Energy companies are paying higher day rates, particularly for the newer offshore rigs, and firms that have been upgrading their fleets are likely to see significant returns on their investments.”


As noted in a previous research note in December 2012, Parry said companies such as Ensco and Noble Corporation have been upgrading their respective fleets and appear to hold a competitive advantage, aided by their rising exposure to the deepwater and ultra deepwater markets, where clients have had recent exploration success. Rowan Companies, a major player in the premium jack-up market, has undergone a major restructuring, shedding long-held manufacturing and land-rig assets and reinvesting the proceeds in the deepwater market.


“In general, Ensco and Noble, thanks to their rising inventory of newer rigs, saw the strongest margin recovery in 2012 and, along with Diamond Offshore, we expect them to continue to perform well in 2013 and 2014,” said Parry.


“Conversely, the softness in the relative 2012 performance of the six multi-service providers, notably the ’big four,’ is primarily the result of their large exposure to the softening North American onshore market for oil field services, particularly pricing competition in important pumping/hydraulic fracturing operations,” Parry added. “This price competition, along with slipping onshore activity and  weaker than expected activity in certain operations outside North America in late 2012, means that these service companies will continue to face operating margin pressures into mid-2013.”


The IHS Herold Offshore Contract Drillers Peer Group Analysis is available by subscription to the IHS Herold advisory services.For more information about this report, please contact To speak with John Parry, please contact


About IHS (

IHS (NYSE: IHS) is the leading source of information, insight and analytics in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape. Businesses and governments in more than 165 countries around the globe rely on the comprehensive content, expert independent analysis and flexible delivery methods of IHS to make high-impact decisions and develop strategies with speed and confidence. IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, IHS is committed to sustainable, profitable growth and employs more than 6,000 people in 31 countries around the world.


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