Precision Drilling targets oil, liquids-rich opportunities

CALGARY — Oilpatch services company Precision Drilling Corp. said Thursday it eked out a $6-million fourth-quarter profit as demand strengthened in North America for the more powerful, higher-tech rigs in its drilling fleet.

CALGARY — Oilpatch services company Precision Drilling Corp. said Thursday it eked out a $6-million fourth-quarter profit as demand strengthened in North America for the more powerful, higher-tech rigs in its drilling fleet.

The net income during the last three months of 2010 was equal to two cents per share, reversing a year-earlier loss of $25 million, or nine cents per share.

Revenue in the quarter totalled $436 million, compared with $286 million for the same period of 2009.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were on average expecting Precision to report earnings of 21 cents per share and revenues of $408 million during the fourth quarter.

For all of 2010, Precision reported net earnings of $62 million, or 22 cents per share, compared to earnings of $162 million or 63 cents per share in 2009.

“The resurgence of oil-targeted drilling in Canada and the United States, and particularly the application of horizontal drilling in both conventional and unconventional oil resource plays continues to drive strong demand for our high performance, high value services,” chief executive officer Kevin Neveu said in a statement.

Precision (TSX:PD) is Canada’s largest oilfield services company, with a presence in North and South America. The company said it has set a 2011 capital budget of $405 million, a large portion of which is going toward building and upgrading rigs.

In October, one of its rigs in Chile was brought in to help rescue 33 Chilean miners who had been trapped deep underground for months.

Precision converted from an income trust into a corporation last spring in anticipation of federal tax changes that came into effect earlier this year.

Precision shares dropped six cents to $10.44 in afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange Thursday.

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