Transocean goes deep below the ocean surface in search of major profits. The company specializes in deepwater drilling and it isn't afraid of harsh environments. It operates in the world's major offshore oil-producing regions, including Africa, Asia, Brazil, Canada, India, the Middle East, the Gulf of Mexico, and the North Sea. The company has a fleet of 138 mobile offshore drilling units (72 semisubmersibles and drillships, 63 jackup rigs, and three other rigs). Transocean's other operations include management of third-party drilling services. Major customers include BP and Chevron. Although Transocean has a major presence in the Houston oil patch, the company is domiciled in Switzerland for tax purposes.
As oil majors continue to drill in deeper waters, Transocean operates new rigs and is adding upgrades to existing ones to keep up with demand. It has 26 ultra-deepwater drillships able to drill in water depths of 7,500 feet or greater. In 2010 the company had one Ultra-Deepwater Floaters and three high-specification jackups under construction.
However, in 2010 the company was caught up in a major disaster (along with rig leaseholder BP) when one of its Gulf of Mexico deepwater rigs caught fire and sank, taking 11 lives (mainly Transocean workers), and spewing millions of gallons of oil from the sea floor.
In addition to the loss of its Deepwater Horizon rig, the company lost revenues after a moratorium was placed by the US government on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, idling a number of other rigs. Rig utilization was 63% in 2010 compared to 80% in 2009 (already a down year due the global recession's drag on oil and gas exploration activity). Consequently, the company posted a sharp drop in total revenues and income in 2010.
It also faces government investigations and litigation stemming from the Deepwater Horizon accident. (In early 2013 Transocean agreed to pay the US government $400 million in criminal penalties and a $1 billion civil fine after pleading guilty to violating the Clean Water Act).
Transocean boosted its fleet and its finances in 2011 when it paid $1.43 billion in cash for Aker Drilling, a public company controlled by Norway's Aker ASA. Transocean's offer price was 62% more than Aker Drilling's average stock price in 2011, but the high offer was still a value compared to buying new ships. Aker Drilling owns two ultra-deepwater, semi-submersible rigs currently contracted to Statoil and Det Norske in Norway. It has two more drillships under construction atDaewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd. in South Korea, which are scheduled to be complete in 2013. Transocean currently owns five rigs in operation off the coast of Norway and the addition of two more will give it a leading market share of 25%.
In a major deal, in 2012 the company sold 37 jackup drilling rigs and one swamp barge to Royal Dutch Shell for $1.05 billion.
In an earlier expansion, Transocean acquired GlobalSantaFe in 2007 for almost $18 billion. The acquisition made Transocean the world's largest offshore contract drilling company, expanding its fleet and strengthening its position in various global markets. – less