Transocean Ltd Earnings Call Nuggets: Near-Term Opportunities and Rig Outlooks

On Monday, Transocean Ltd (NYSE:RIG) reported its third quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

Near-Term Opportunities

Angeline Sedita – UBS: The first question for you Steven is congratulations on signing the four newbuilds for the construction. Do you see today additional opportunities for – over the near-term to build additional ultra-deepwater rig or do you believe that four is manageable and you are not actually seeking additional opportunities at this time?

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Steven L. Newman – President and CEO: Well, I think there’s a question on the marketplace there and I’ll let Terry comment on that in a minute. We remain focused on achieving some well-articulated balance sheet objectives that we think are fundamental to allow us to continue to execute our business plan going forward. Greg talked about those in his comments. Our gross debt target of $7 billion to 9 billion and a liquidity target, so we would want to make sure that any opportunities we pursue are seen in that context. We’ve got to continue to focus on ensuring that our balance sheet is supportive of the strong investment-grade credit rating we’re looking for. I’ll let Terry talk about what opportunities might be out there in the marketplace.

Terry B. Bonno – SVP, Marketing: We’re in solid discussions with quite a few of the customer base and we are encouraged that looking beyond certainly 2014 and ’15 that they are still talking about future development programs where they are going to simply need more rigs and we find that to be very encouraging and certainly supports all the comments that we’ve made about, how we believe in the strength of long-term view the ultra-deepwater market, so yes, I think there is more to come and if you look at open demand today and that’s not just what’s public. That’s not open demand that us and our competitors are in private conversation with our customers, but today you see 17 to 20 opportunities that are on the book, so I think it is still strong and the conversations are still very fruitful.

Angeline Sedita – UBS: Then as an unrelated follow-up, answer if you can, are you today, Steven, in active conversation with the Department of Justice today and have you had any conversations at all with Plaintiff Steering Committee recently?

Steven L. Newman – President and CEO: On those two specific points, Angie, I am probably not going to say anything more than what’s already in our disclosures regarding the investigations with the DOJ, the PSC and BP and all the other parties that are involved in the Macondo litigation.

Rig Outlooks

Gregory Lewis – Credit Suisse: I just have a couple more fleet questions. So when we think about the Sedco 706 in Brazil, what’s sort of the outlook for that rig over the next sort of couple months?

Terry B. Bonno – SVP, Marketing: The Sedco 706 doesn’t come available in 2013. She’s under contract still with Chevron at this time.

Gregory Lewis – Credit Suisse: But isn’t that the rig…

Terry B. Bonno – SVP, Marketing: Yes, it’s the rig that was involved in (Frade), but Chevron is in discussions at the moment trying to assign the rig to Petrobras so that it can remain active in Brazil.

Gregory Lewis – Credit Suisse: And then just sort of switching gears to the mid-water rigs that you have coming off. Are you able to provide any sort of outlook guidance on the Grand Banks and the Arctic I?

Terry B. Bonno – SVP, Marketing: Yes, well, on the Grand Banks, I just mentioned in the commentary that we just signed a 32-month contract. So that will certainly keep her occupied for the next 3 years. So we’re excited about that. We just signed that this last week. The Arctic I, we are looking for opportunities. There are some short-term opportunities in Brazil with other customers. So we are in discussions, but we don’t have anything (planned stuff) right now. But keep in mind that this is a U.K.-capable rig. There is also that opportunity should that present itself, to be able to relocate it to another market.

Gregory Lewis – Credit Suisse: And would there be any sort of upgrade and maintenance required to get it back into the U.K.?

Terry B. Bonno – SVP, Marketing: Yes, there would be.

Gregory Lewis – Credit Suisse: And can you give sort of any guidance on the timing of that and the cost?

Terry B. Bonno – SVP, Marketing: We haven’t really looked at that because we try to do it as we try to match those opportunities with the long-term programs to make it economically feasible to do so and we just haven’t looked into that type of upgrade as of this time.