Saipem exercises ‘Santorini’ drillship purchase option

Source: press release, 5 December 2022

‘Saipem 12000’, a sixth-generation ultra-deep-water drillship
‘Saipem 12000’, a sixth-generation ultra-deep-water drillship (photo: Saipem)

Saipem has exercised its purchase option concerning the seventh-generation Santorini drillship, which is already operating within the Saipem fleet by way of a long-term charter agreement signed with Samsung Heavy Industries in 2021.

The exercise price of the purchase option is USD 230 million, to be paid by the end of 2022.

The Santorini, whose construction was completed in 2021, is a technologically advanced vessel, equipped with two seven-cavity Blow Out Preventers (BOP), the highest standard for ultra-deepwater drillships, state-of-the-art operations automation systems, and the latest solutions to optimise environmental impact.

The vessel is currently in operation in the United States (Gulf of Mexico) for the execution of a contract with Eni expiring in the third quarter of 2023.

After the Saipem 10000 and Saipem 12000, the fruitful collaboration with Samsung Heavy Industries is once again reaffirmed.

The investment decision is based on an expected return on investment (IRR) of over 15%, with a payback period of 5 years, estimated on the basis of the existing contract (covering most of the next financial year) and the Santorini’scommercial prospects.

The backlog of Saipem’s offshore drilling activity to date amounts to more than EUR 1.5 billion, the highest value in the last 6 years. Existing contracts (including optional periods) result in a fleet commitment about 80% for 2023 and about 60% for 2024.

The results and business prospects are determined by:

  • The favourable trend in demand in the offshore drilling segment and in particular deepwater. The significant growth of the deepwater market now offers interesting opportunities for the deployment of the fleet, both in markets where Saipem is traditionally present (such as Africa and the Mediterranean), and in segments where the supply of ultra-deepwater drilling rigs is already close to saturation (such as the Gulf of Mexico).
  • The level of daily market rates for seventh-generation drillships, which continue to show a robust growth trend; according to the most authoritative sources, average market rates are estimated at around USD 400 thousand per day in 2022 and are expected to grow to levels above USD 450 thousand per day by 2025.*
  • Ongoing commercial discussions with major clients in areas of potential use of the Santorini, for which developments are expected in the short term.
  • The limited availability of technologically advanced assets such as the Santorini, in a global market environment where demand for drillships significantly exceeds supply, with a trend expected to strengthen.

The investment in the Santorini will be financed entirely from available cash.

The guidance of approximately EUR 300 million net debt (post-IFRS 16) at the end of 2022 is confirmed.

*Average daily average rates per seventh-generation drillship (estimates as of November 2022; sources: Fearnley, Pareto, Esgian)