Wednesday, December 27, 2006
The WSJ’s „Heard on the Street” column highlights Anadarko Petroleum (APC), which has something harder to find than oil - the floating rigs that explorers need for drilling. A boom in drilling deep-water oil and natural-gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coasts of Brazil and West Africa has driven demand for the specialized rigs needed to work in depths. Deep-water rigs are in short supply, and co’s are scrambling to get their hands on them, which could pay off for Anadarko. It pegged the looming scarcity early and moved quickly to secure board approval last year to spend $1bn locking down rig leases. Anadarko now has a larger inventory of Gulf-based rigs under contract than any other major oil co, giving it an extraordinary competitive advantage. Fields ripe for exploration can't be drilled without the rigs. Anadarko's leases give it a powerful bargaining chip to barter for stakes in more deep-water oil and gas prospects. Its moves have gone largely unappreciated on Wall St., overshadowed by investor concerns about the co's balance sheet.