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Vol. 17, No. 41 Week of October 07, 2012
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Parker Drilling picks new CEO, works to perfect two Alaska rigs

The latest word from Parker Drilling Co. is that a pair of rigs built for BP’s Alaska North Slope operations are “undergoing commissioning.”

Meantime, the Houston-based global drilling contractor has made a change at the top.

Gary Rich was selected to take over as president and chief executive officer, effective Oct. 1. Rich previously was vice president of global sales for oilfield services giant Baker Hughes, a Sept. 24 press release from Parker said.

“Gary has proven success in developing and implementing growth strategies that deliver sustainable results and value,” said Rob McKee, presiding director on Parker’s board. “He has experience in nearly every aspect of the oil and gas business and a keen understanding of the evolving needs of the drilling service marketplace.”

Rich assumes the position from Bobby Parker, who will remain executive chairman of Parker Drilling.

Parker is trying to re-enter the Alaska market after an absence of several years.

Parker-built rigs 272 and 273 arrived on the North Slope in August 2011. Parker describes them as a new and highly advanced class of drilling rig.

But they have yet to go to work since their delivery to the Slope.

In January, Parker disclosed that BP was holding it in default under a drilling contract for failure to supply “operationally ready” rigs by Dec. 31, 2011. Parker disagreed that a default had occurred.

In an Aug. 14 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Parker said it and BP had amended the contract with respect to “new deadlines for commencement of operations.”

The filing stated: “Under the amended Contract, Rig 273 is expected to commence operations in the fourth quarter of 2012, and Rig 272 is expected to commence operations soon thereafter, but not less than 75 days following the commencement of Rig 273 operations. If any deficiencies prevent the rigs from commencing operations on time, BP may have the right to terminate the Contract if Parker fails to correct the deficiencies within 90 days of receiving written notice from BP.”

In the Sept. 24 press release, Parker said the Alaska rigs were “undergoing commissioning.”

In addition to the issues with rigs 272 and 273, Parker has encountered serious problems with a giant, extended-reach drilling rig built for BP’s proposed Liberty offshore oil development. BP in June said it was suspending the project, citing the need for “substantial modifications” to the rig as a key factor in the decision.

—Wesley Loy



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