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Nabors Industries Ltd. trying to sell its Alaska assets

Amanda Coyne

According to the Wall Street Journal, Nabors Industries Ltd., announced on Monday it planned to sell about $800 million of the company’s assets, including those in Alaska.

Bermuda-based Nabors is one of the largest drilling companies in the state. The company’s office in Anchorage didn’t return phone calls. It’s unclear if the company plans to sell all of its Alaska properties -- but it's clear Nabors plans on selling its oil field service subsidiary, Peak Oilfield Services Co.

Nabors’ Chief Executive Anthony G. Petrello announced the plans Monday at the Howard Weil Energy Conference in New Orleans, La. He said that he’s selling the assets to make up for lost opportunities, including poor timing during stock trades.

The company is also selling assets in Colombia and Texas, and Canada, among other locations. It hopes to have the deals completed by the second half of the year.

Involved in commercial drilling operations in the state since 1962, Nabors has a long and storied history in Alaska. According to the company’s website, Nabors Alaska drilled both the discovery well and the confirmation well in the giant Prudhoe Bay oilfield in 1968.  It’s also drilled the only well to date in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The results of that effort are locked in some state office.

Nabors has also been known in Alaska for its tough, anti-union stances. In the mid-1990s, when it was the Slope’s drilling powerhouse, a group of workers set out to unionize the company. It worked -- to an extent. They got the required cards in to the National Labor Relations Board and went on to win the election. But problems began during negotiations, according to Tim Sharp, who was a union organizer at the time and is now the manager Laborers Local 942 in Fairbanks. He says that Nabors dragged out the negotiations so long they ended up dropping the effort.

“The choice was to strike and withhold labor, or let them go,” Sharp said.  

More recently, the company was fined $10,000 for cheating on blowout preventer tests when it was a contractor for BP following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Nabors stock lost 49 cents on Wall Street Monday to close at $18.78. 

Contact Amanda Coyne at amanda@alaskadispatch.com