NATIONAL oil company Petrobras of Brazil hit Singapore offshore-rig building yards with a bang in 2012, as both Keppel Offshore and Marine and Sembcorp Marine bagged a combined US$11.4 billion in contracts for drillships, semi-submersible rigs and floating platforms bound for Brazil's deep waters.
As economies like Brazil, Ukraine, and Mexico worry about boosting their oil and gas production, yards are expected to secure more orders from state-owned energy companies directly.
"The interest for new jack-up orders is still there, and it's moving from drilling contractors to national oil companies (NOC)," said Aziz Amirali Merchant, executive director of Keppel Offshore and Marine Technology Centre, at a recent breakfast roundtable leading up to the Sea Asia 2013 conference.
"We see that in Mexico. In the last months, rigs we were building or those built by our competitor, have seen a change in hands. They were sold to Mexican operators as Pemex (the national oil company of Mexico) is keen to increase efficiency in drilling," he said.
Chow Yew Yuen, COO of Keppel Offshore and Marine added NOCs are increasingly likely to up their ownership of assets amid high oil prices and strong energy demand. "It enables them to have better control of rig deployment, customise rigs to their requirements and in some cases, place local content requirements to promote the industry in their country," he explained.
Mexico's national oil company Pemex has been the most recent instance of this NOC interest in securing more rigs.
Pemex placed an order for two premium jack-up rigs at Keppel Fels for US$420 million. In the same week, Mexico-incorporated oilfield services company Oro Negro contracted two jack-ups from Sembmarine worth US$434 million.
As for Keppel Fels, it has added Ukraine's national gas company Naftogaz Ukrainy to its customer list. Naftogaz took delivery of two jack-up rigs in July, before ordering two newbuild semi-submersibles from the yard worth US$1.2 billion.
Spending by national oil companies easily eclipses those of integrated oil companies.
According to GlobalData, Petrobras, the top spender among national oil companies, will outspend ExxonMobil, the top investor among oil companies, in 2013.
In 2013, Petrobras will commit US$47.3 billion of capital expenditure compared to ExxonMobil's US$37 billion.