US OKs 1st Deepwater Drilling Permit After BP Spill

The U.S. has approved its first deepwater drilling permit after the BP spill. This first permit went to Noble Energy , which is an exploration and production company.

This will be a benefit to many deepwater drillers, including Noble Corp. (note that Noble Corp. is a deepwater driller — Noble Energy is a completely separate exploration and production company), Diamond Offshore , Ensco , Pride and others.

Why? An E&P company like NBL contracts with deepwater drillers to do the actual drilling. This is likely the first of many such permits. Some rigs left the Gulf of Mexico, so a sudden increase in demand would potentially increase the dayrate for the drillers, which would certainly increase profits.

According to the press release, Ensco , a well-known deepwater driller, will be doing the actual drilling for NBL, but there will be others.

"This could be the beginning of a nice little run in deepwater drillers," one trade told me.

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