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“Follow the money” is a good rule to understand complicated financial activities. In the oil and gas industry, you can gauge trends by following the newbuilds. Since 2009, many newbuilds in floating structures—drillships, spars and FPSOs—have headed to either the ultra-deepwater Lower Tertiary plays in the Gulf of Mexico or deepwater fields in Brazil. As the focus in these areas is on the long-term results, ultra-deepwater operators and their drilling contractors and EPC partners did not slow down to catch their breath during the oil price dip and have been introducing newbuilds at a rapid pace. The design criteria for the floating structures are to provide stability in 10,000 ft of water, and for modular offshore drilling units (MODUs) to be able to drill to 40,000 ft, typically with sixth-generation drilling units. Mooring advances are keeping pace with lighter polyester ropes and more efficient deployment methods.
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