Building brand-new offshore drilling rigs would be little short of an absurdity in the eyes of executives from several big contractors, but all agreed that more merger and acquisition activity would make sense for the sector.

Suggestions that new rigs might be ordered have been heard in recent months due to a rising utilisation of rigs in drillers fleets and a growing number of units that were either warm-stacked or abandoned in Chinese shipyards now making their way into operation.