Nabors cancels rig sale plan

Vol 24, PW 19 (12 Aug 21) News in Brief

Nabors Drilling has abandoned plans to sell its two "bolt-on" modular workover rigs Sundowner-5 and Sundowner-7 after discovering it will have to pay customs duty.

"How can they be sold when customs duty has to be paid?" asks a source. "The rigs will return to Dubai in a few months."

A Nabors source adds that when the two rigs arrived in India for ONGC, they benefitted from a customs duty exemption. "But to sell them in India would entail paying customs duty," he says.

Meanwhile, Nabors is discovering that it's easier to set up an operation in India than close it down. "Everything from returning vehicle registrations to disconnecting electricity connections is a problem and involves tedious procedures with multiple agencies," we hear.

"In Papua New Guinea, Nabors had a contract with ExxonMobil which took care of all the approvals and licencing. But here ONGC does nothing."

As a result, Nabors will keep a skeleton staff of mainly finance employees in its Mumbai office. Nabors agent Askara is adamant Nabors is not "quitting" India.

"This is all a rumour - Nabors is not exiting India," counters an Askara source. "We continue to remain the agent and will continue to bid for onshore contracts."

Not in doubt is that in May (2021), Nabors laid off up to 180 engineers, technicians and other skilled workers after its disqualification in an ONGC tender for two jack-up or workover rigs to replace Sundowner-5 and Sundowner-7.