Patterson-UTI losses narrow in first quarter as rigs jump

Patterson-UTI Energy driller Troy Stewart works on a gas drilling rig at El Paso Corp.'s Holly Field drilling site Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009, in Grand Cane. (James Nielsen/Houston Chronicle)
Patterson-UTI Energy driller Troy Stewart works on a gas drilling rig at El Paso Corp.’s Holly Field drilling site Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009, in Grand Cane. (James Nielsen/Houston Chronicle)

Houston rig contractor Patterson-UTI narrowed its losses in the first quarter as its active U.S. rig fleet climbed by nearly a quarter.

The company lost $63.5 million,  or 40 cents a share, in the January-March period, compared to a loss of $70.5 million,  or 48 cents a share, in the same three-month period last year. Revenues increased to  $305 million from $269 million.

Patterson-UTI recently closed its $1.8 billion purchase of Seventy Seven Energy, which operates scores of rigs and pressure pumping equipment used to punch openings into oil-soaked rock underground.

The contractor said it expects its U.S. rig  count to increase from an average 81 in the first quarter to an average of 96 in April. Still, even as oil companies order more rigs, Patterson’s rig day rates edged lower by 2 percent to $21,200.

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