GLOBAL offshore drilling giant Transocean has made a £879million bid for Aker Drilling, of Norway, in a move that would boost its ultra-deepwater fleet and its foothold offshore the Nordic country.
Transocean, already the world’s largest offshore-rig operator, said buying Aker Drilling would add about £645million to its order book. The Norwegian firm was spun off from Aker Solutions earlier this year and operates two harsh-environment, ultra-deepwater, sixth-generation semisubmersible rigs currently on long-term contract to Statoil and Det Norske in Norway.
It is also expected to take delivery of two sixth-generation drillships, under construction at the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering shipyard in Korea, in 2013.
Transocean chief executive Steven Newman said: “Aker Drilling is an excellent strategic fit for Transocean. It allows us to enhance our position in Norway where we have enjoyed a long-term presence and excellent customer relationships.
“Aker Drilling’s high-quality people and state-of-the-art offshore drilling fleet will ensure that we continue to deliver outstanding service to our customers.”
Hannon Westwood analyst Andrew Vinall said: “Transocean likes to play the deepwater game. They are looking at where people are drilling in deep water in order to maximise their exposure to deep water. By taking Aker out they are taking on a very modern fleet, which will be able to be used in harsh deep water where everyone expects the next phase of drilling to go.”
He questioned if the deal, which still needs to be approved, would fall under competition rules, however, should Transocean become too dominant.
It has been drilling wells off Norway since the early 1970s and now owns five rigs offshore in the region. If the bid is successful, it will own seven and boost its market share to 25%, making it the biggest in the market off Norway.
Analyst Fredrik Lunde, of Carnegie, said Transocean was taking advantage of Aker’s low share price and looking to renew its fleet in a market and reduce the risk of building new vessels itself.