Belgium’s Exmar has made its return to the offshore drilling sector with a stake in the Houston-headquartered rig owner and operator Vantage Drilling.
The Nicolas Saverys-controlled gas shipowner and infrastructure provider has revealed an 11.5% ownership interest in the OTC-listed business, marking its re-entry into the sector after more than two decades.
Established in 2007, Vantage owns a fleet of two jackups and two drillships, while another pair of floaters is operated on behalf of Seadrill.
As of end-September, the company had around $77.6m in cash. The Ihab Toma-led Vantage reported near-breakeven third-quarter net income attributable to controlling interest, against a net loss of $20.2m same time last year on the back of reduced debt, increased fleet utilisation, and higher dayrates.
Exmar’s offshore unit emerged in the early nineties as the owner and operator of drilling fleet as well as building its first semisub. The company today holds rights to several rig designs and has executed a number of rig update projects in recent years.
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“This strategic investment is driven by promising value due to continued underinvestment in the offshore drilling market,” Exmar said in its third-quarter earnings report.
Drillship rates are seen pushing $500,000 per day, while high-spec jack-ups have exceeded $150,000 per day, both doubling since the start of 2021. Global utilisation is currently sitting at 92% and around 95% for premium assets, as contract lead times are also starting to stretch when rig availability becomes sparse.