Deeper depths

Originally founded in 1987 under the name Energy Services Company, Ensco has developed and grown over the years through acquisition and internal construction to become one of the world’s most notable drilling contractors.

Having started as a relatively small company, the organisation quickly moved into the jackup drilling arena developing from the ground upwards until it became recognised at the premium end of the market. Once marked by Forbes magazine as the fastest growing business entity, the organisation has made a number of lucrative acquisitions over the past 20 years. The attainment of Penrod Drilling in 1993, Dual Drilling in 1996 and Chiles Offshore in 2002 aided the organisation’s growth in the drilling and jackup arena where it holds its historical expertise, while efforts are being made to diversify and penetrate the deepwater, semi-submersible arena. With the understanding that the oil and gas market was heading to deeper waters, Ensco built its first semi-submersible in 2000 as part of its growth and diversification strategy. Today the company has seven further semi-submersibles that are either undergoing construction or have been delivered, taking its capacity to a total of eight.

In May this year, the organisation announced the opening of its new headquarters in London, while European headquarters remain in Aberdeen. This move, which has seen it transfer offices from the US, has brought numerous benefits to Ensco, not least by placing it closer to major customers and in the hub of global finance and transportation, as Zarksis Italia, director finance & administration, Europe & Africa business unit of Ensco, explains: “Our incorporation into London has brought many advantages, most notable of which is the fact that our executive management now have a much greater access to our international markets. When we first started we had a prominent presence in the US, but for quite a few years now we have had a greater international presence making this a very logical business move. London being the centre of activity has offered our management the convenience of reaching out and gaining an overview of international oil and gas activity. From Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Indonesia in South East Asia to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and India, and back to the Gulf of Mexico and Europe itself, we have far greater visibility and interaction with our wide spread geographic market.”

A self-professed high-end global service provider, Ensco prides itself on the expert drilling services it can offer to the petroleum industry, with high quality equipment, a well-trained workforce and an unrivalled safety and reliability reputation setting it apart from global competition. Gilles Luca, general manager, Europe & Africa business unit of Ensco highlights its key strengths: “Our newly built and upgraded equipment puts us in a very solid position compared to our competitors in terms of what we can offer the market. The qualities of our fleet, however, are secondary to our main asset that lies in the core values upon which our workforce and company is built. The organisation was founded by ambitious individuals with very high personal ethics and values, and these are still in force today, making a difference to our customers and the service they receive around the world.”

Ensco presents itself as the clear company of choice and without being the biggest or most advanced drilling contractor it still provides the best in service and operation systems with records to support this claim. Indeed, the independent customer satisfaction survey conducted by Energy Point Research once marked the company as number one for performance, reliability and technology among offshore drillers and in the Asia Pacific its operations rank overall number one in the region.

The standard fleet of premium jackup rigs has received an upgrade in excess of over $1.1 billion, an amount that is typical of Ensco’s development strategy, which has seen it consistently enhance or supplement its fleet over the past two decades. The premium market covers activities in 250 foot water depth and above, while the semi-submersible rigs operate in a depth of up to 7500 and 8500 feet water depth.

“In addition to our rig investment, the company has placed over $3.1 billion into the construction of our seven new ultra-deepwater semi-submersibles, four of which are still being built in Singapore,” Gilles notes. “These are all part of our Ensco 8500 series, reaching water depths of up to 8500 feet and drilling depths of 35,000 feet. The deepwater arena is certainly where our current investment plans lie and is definitely the focus of a lot of attention for the company. We have put a great deal of effort into making this venture a success and it is critical to the progress of Ensco, though we still want to remain a hybrid contractor. It is important to us that we remember that we have a very expendable fleet of jackup rigs and we can build on that reputation for performance and efficiency to establish ourselves in the deepwater segment. It is very much the vision of the company to be as solid in the deepwater market as we are in the jackup area without one being at the expense of the other.”

While benefiting, on the one hand, from its reputation in the jackup sector of the oil and gas industry, this has also proved to be the greatest challenge for Ensco. Having to start again as an unknown entity within a new market was daunting for the company, and it had to convince customers that it was not only a reliable solution provider but could also outperform more established competitors in the deepwater segment. The industry changes and recession of the past few years also arrived in the middle of a significant phase of growth and investment for Ensco, leaving it little margin for error. With the right resources and people, however, along with its semi-submersibles that are due to be delivered on time and on budget, Ensco is very well positioned to ride out the challenges.

Looking to the future, Zarksis concludes: “We always strive to expand and grow though in a very disciplined and well planned manner. Right now it is our vision to successfully complete our expansion into the deepwater segment, while making the most of the difficult market environment to look at opportunities that are available. Since our inception we have experienced persistent and rapid growth and it is certain that over the coming years we will look to perpetuate that pattern.”

Services: Drilling contracting