Nabors quadruples takehome in fourth quarter

HOUSTON – Nabors Industries Ltd. quadrupled its fourth-quarter profits on increased international drilling and a thaw in colder U.S. markets, the rig contractor reported Tuesday.

The company, which is based in Bermuda but has significant operations in Houston, made $150 million, or 50 cents per share, in the final three months of 2013. During the same period the year before, the company reported net income of $27 million, or 9 cents per share.

Nabors’ revenue edged up about 1 percent over the same period to $1.61 billion.

The company’s gains came as it saw “building momentum in our international operations and a more favorable outlook for our U.S. drilling operations,” Nabors Chairman and CEO Tony Petrello said in a written statement.

It gained market share in the U.S., securing contracts for 51 rigs when such drilling agreements have become harder to come by as oil and gas producers flatten out the number of rigs they use at major shale plays.

Higher demand for rigs in international markets pushed up Nabors’ rig-day rates. Oil producers have generally spent more in international markets than in North America, partly because of advanced drilling efficiencies in the U.S. shale market.

The company said it reinvested $1.4 billion in new rigs and technological upgrades and cut its debt level by $870 million. The fourth-quarter profit follows a $105 million loss in the third quarter, the result of costs to refinance senior debt and impairments on its U.S. coiled tubing fleet.