April 18, 2018 / 2:29 PM / a month ago

Out of bankruptcy, Seadrill eyes closer ties with oil service firms

OSLO (Reuters) - Offshore oil driller Seadrill (SDRL.OL) plans to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late June or early July to catch the rising wave of rig market activity, its chief executive told said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: The SEADRILL 3, the first of four oil rigs that Keppel FELS is building for the same customer, is seen in Singapore in this April 21, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Luis Enrique Ascui/File Photo

The company won U.S. court approval on Tuesday for its multi-billion dollar debt restructuring plan after reaching a deal with more than 40 banks, unsecured creditors and shipyards.

“The confirmation is the most significant milestone in the process, and now we need to implement the plan over 60 to 90 days. Obviously, we would like to do it as fast as possible,” CEO Anton Dibowitz told Reuters.

Seadrill plans to expand relations with Schlumberger (SLB.N), the world’s largest oil services firm, and other suppliers to the global oil and gas industry, although the company had no immediate consolidation plans, he added.

Seadrill is already cooperating with Schlumberger in India to offer integrated drilling services.

“Equally, we are in discussions with all major oil service companies, and if there are opportunities that makes sense for both of us, we will certainly entertain that,” Dibowitz said.

Seadrill was forced to seek bankruptcy court protection from creditors after a sharp drop in oil prices in 2014 cut oil firms’ appetite for exploration, pushing rates for rigs down and leaving many idle.

Oil companies have since returned to the market, hiring rigs to explore for offshore oil and gas deposits after crude prices have traded above $60 a barrel since November. Brent LCOc1 was trading at $72 at 1303 GMT.

    Out of 51 rig marketed by Seadrill, which include rigs owned by its non-consolidated entities, such as Seadrill Partners (SDLP.N), 31 rigs are currently employed.

    Seadrill said the approved plan, which extends maturities of $5.7 billion in bank debts, converts $2.3 billion of unsecured bonds to equity and injects $1 billion in new debt and equity, would enable the company to take advantage of a market recovery.

    “We are fully confident that it (the drilling market) would recover within the next five years, and now we have a runway that we needed in order to see that,” Dibowitz said.

    Norwegian-born billionaire John Fredriksen will retain control of Seadrill with a stake of just under 30 percent in the restructured company, up from 24 percent previously.

    Fredriksen, whose business empire includes the largest salmon farmer Marine Harvest (MHG.OL) and oil tanker firm Frontline (FRO.OL), is committed to remaining a long-term stakeholder, Dibowitz said.

    He added that Fredriksen “was absolutely integral to striking the deal with the banks, and I expect that he will continue to be the anchor shareholder going forward.”

    Dibowitz, Seadrill’s CEO since July 2017, said he expected to remain at the helm of the company after its restructuring.

    Editing by Terje Solsvik and Edmund Blair

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