CEO Rob Saltiel reveals Atwood Oceanics is well positioned to grow

By Phaedra Friend Troy

An independent offshore rig contractor with more than 40 years of experience in the industry, Atwood Oceanics (NYSE: ATW) is a smaller drilling contractor with nine rigs – but the company is well positioned to grow, stresses company CEO Rob Saltiel.

“The future for Atwood is very bright, and our presence the last four years on Fortune’s list of fastest-growing companies is testament to how successful we have been,” said Rob Saltiel, President and CEO of Atwood Oceanics. “However, we firmly believe our best is yet to come.”

The company currently boasts four shallow-water, two midwater and three deepwater rigs. Additionally, Atwood Oceanics has four rigs currently under construction, two ultra-deepwater floaters and two high-specification jackups.

“I expect that Atwood has ample opportunity to grow in size – both in terms of our fleet and our revenues and earnings – from today’s levels,” Saltiel said. “As we deliver on our growth initiatives, we will be careful to retain the key attributes of our company that have helped establish our excellent industry reputation. These include a continuous focus on safety, client service and operations excellence in all we do.

“However, we recognize that Atwood’s fleet composition and organizational capabilities must advance with the times,” he added. “As such, we currently have four high-specification new-build rigs under construction – two floaters and two jackups - that will be delivered by 2012 and will form a strong nucleus for our future fleet. At the same time, we are adding new personnel to our onshore and offshore teams to support the technologies that a modern rig fleet affords to our clients.”

Ultra-Deepwater Deliveries

Scheduled for delivery in 2011, the Atwood Osprey is a sixth-generation ultra-deepwater semisubmersible currently under construction at Jurong Shipyard in Singapore. At a dayrate of $470,000, this rig is contracted to work for Chevron for a firm three years on the Greater Gorgon natural gas development offshore Western Australia.

Slated for completion in 2012, the ultra-deepwater Atwood Condor semisubmersible will be able to drill in a water depth of 10,000 feet with a 1250-ton top-drive and an enhanced BOP designed to ensure operational integrity.

Saltiel revealed that Atwood is currently talking to a number of operators interested in contracting the Atwood Condor due to its unique capabilities.

“The Condor’s proven design, coupled with industry-leading drilling, marine and safety capabilities, have attracted significant market inquiries,” Saltiel said. “In particular, the Condor’s state-of-the-art top-drive and BOP system will provide enhanced operational integrity in a post-Macondo world. We are still nearly 20 months from delivery, so we want to be sure to identify the best opportunity for the Condor.”

High-Spec Jackups

Bucking a trend toward deepwater, Atwood has also contracted the PPL Shipyard in Singapore to build two Pacific Class 400 jackups, with an option to build another three. Rated for 400 feet of water, the high-specification jackups are slated for delivery by the close of 2012.

“We have again chosen to leverage a proven rig design at a capable and experienced shipyard, and we have contracted these rigs under very attractive financial terms,” Saltiel stated. “We are confident that these rigs will be very marketable assets and provide many years of service within our worldwide jackup fleet.”

Saltiel stresses that while jackup utilization in the Gulf of Mexico may be waning, the demand for high-specification jackups in overseas markets such as the Middle East and Southeast Asia is climbing.

“Operators favor the capability and efficiency of newer rigs, and we are seeing a clear preference for high-specification jackups worldwide as a result,” Saltiel explained.

Leveraging a well-established reputation for safety and quality services, Saltiel is positioning Atwood to grow its revenues and earnings alongside its offshore rig fleet.

“Atwood is very well positioned for a strong and prosperous future,” he said. “We have built an excellent reputation over the past 40-plus years by providing high-quality drilling services safely, reliably and efficiently. We have begun a multi-year program of replenishing our worldwide fleet with high-specification floaters and jackups. We have a conservatively managed balance sheet that offers further opportunities to invest in our growth. Most importantly, we have the best people in the industry – experienced, motivated and dedicated – to take us to the next level.”

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