* Share hit record high
* Sees EBITDA up more than 50 pct by 2016
* Has 27 rigs on order
OSLO, Aug 28 Seadrill, the world's
largest offshore rig operator, expects profits to soar in the
next few years as energy companies move into increasingly
difficult waters and raise exploration spending to satisfy the
world's hunger for oil.
The crown jewel in shipping tycoon John Fredriksen's
business empire has been investing aggressively in recent years
and expects to boost its fleet with 27 new rigs and drillships
by the end of the decade.
The company forecasts a more than 50 percent rise in
earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation
(EBITDA) to $4.5 billion between 2013 and 2016.
"The fundamental outlook for the offshore drilling industry
remains positive," it said on Wednesday. "The market for
harsh-environment drilling rigs remains very tight and
increasing demand in northern Norway, Russia and Arctic regions
is likely to tighten this further."
Seadrill's total order backlog stands at $19 billion. It
also singled out Mexico, Brazil and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico as
promising business areas.
In the second quarter, Seadrill's EBITDA rose 5 percent to a
record $665 million, beating expectations for $631 million. The
company improved its quarterly dividend by 3 cents to 91 cents
and promised further increases as profits rise.
Shares in the company rose 4.2 percent to a record 279
Norwegian crowns in early trade, giving it a market
capitalisation about $21.5 billion, comfortably ahead of rival
Transocean's $16.8 billion. By 0840 GMT, the shares were
up 3.6 percent.
Seadrill's planned fleet expansion, by nearly 80 percent on
the second quarter of this year, has been aided by low shipyard
prices in South Korea, Singapore and China as beleaguered
shipping companies battle for business.
"Oil and gas companies continue to demonstrate their
preference for newer, more capable rigs," Seadrill said.