By Kevin Lim and Eveline Danubrata
SINGAPORE, April 12 Keppel Corp has
signed a letter of intent to build five semisubmersible rigs for
Sete Brasil for around $4.12 billion, paving the way for what
will be the biggest-ever deal for the Singapore firm.
Keppel, the world's biggest oil rig builder, had a net
orderbook of S$9.4 billion ($7.5 billion) at the end of 2011
with deliveries extending to 2015. The latest deal, along with
two other contracts announced earlier this month, will ensure
its yards are kept busy over an even longer period.
Sete Brasil, which specialises in chartering drilling rigs
for Brazil's pre-salt exploration, is owned by seven Brazilian
investors including national oil company Petrobras.
Sete Brasil in December placed a firm order for one Keppel
rig as companies step up exploration in waters off Brazil, which
has the potential to become a major oil exporter.
"The news should be positive for the share price tomorrow.
We have been expecting this deal, but now it's confirmed and
it's quite a big addition to the order book," said Yeak Chee
Keong, an analyst at Maybank Kim Eng.
Out of 26 analysts tracking Keppel, 23 have a buy or strong
buy rating, while three have a hold recommendation, according to
Thomson Reuters data.
Should the Sete Brasil letter of intent lead to a firm
order, Keppel will build the rigs at its yard in Brazil, which
it established in 2000.
"With six orders, the yard in Brazil will be busy, but we
are looking at expanding the yard," a Keppel spokeswoman said
when contacted by Reuters.
Keppel and Singapore rival Sembcorp Marine, the
world's number two rig builder, have seen strong orders over the
past year as oil companies step up exploration activity amid
stubbornly high oil prices.
Keppel shares closed 2 percent higher at S$11.24 on
Thursday. The shares have risen 21 percent so far this year.