HOUSTON, July 14 Offshore drilling stocks
including Noble Corp (NE.N) and Transocean Inc (RIG.N) received
a boost on Monday from President George W. Bush's plans to lift
an executive ban on offshore oil exploration, though analysts
said any possible exploration remained years away.
Bush was due to announce his decision to allow exploration
in the Outer Continental Shelf later on Monday as part of an
effort to ease record crude oil prices. Congress would also
need to lift its legislative moratorium on drilling.
"The reality is, you don't have any rigs available," said
Roger Read, oilfield services analyst with Natixis
Bleichroeder. "But anything that is going on that would
increase the odds of additional drilling on virgin territories
like off the coast of Florida is a positive for the U.S.
Record crude oil prices have driven up demand for offshore
drilling rigs worldwide. Shipyards are busy building new rigs,
but availability is quite tight through 2010.
And even if Congress lifted its ban on drilling, it would
be at least two years before any exploration takes place,
While bigger players like Noble and Transocean would
benefit from more U.S. offshore drilling, smaller companies
like Hercules Offshore Inc HERO.O, Rowan Companies Inc
(RDC.N) and ENSCO International Inc (ESV.N) may see more
activity, Mike Breard, energy analyst with Hodges Capital
"It would help more the companies that are more oriented to
domestic drilling," Breard said. "But I think it would be very
positive to see more drilling in the U.S. It would help the
Shares of Transocean were up .5 percent, or 74 cents, at
$145.69, while Noble was rose 1.6 percent to $59.85 in early
afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange.
Rowan shares climbed 1.62 percent, or 69 cents, to $43.24
and Hercules was up 3.5 percent, or $1.17, at $35.08. ENSCO was
up 2.3 percent, or $1.72, at $76.42 on the NYSE.
(Reporting by Anna Driver in Houston)