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Seadrill says rig market recovery slowing, debt talks continue

Offshore drilling firm Seadrill said the recent recovery of rig markets had slowed at the start of 2020, and that discussions with creditors on how to handle its massive debts would continue.

The company booked $39 million in adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the fourth quarter, in line with its own guidance of $40 million (31 million pounds) made late last year.

In the first quarter of 2020, Seadrill expects its adjusted EBITDA to drop to $35 million, it added.

“We have seen a broad-based market recovery through 2019 … The pace of the recovery has slowed as we enter 2020, however we expect to see continued improvement as the year progresses,” Seadrill Chief Executive Anton Dibowitz said in a statement.

Once the world’s largest offshore driller by market value, Seadrill was left with dozens of idled drilling rigs and billions of dollars in debt when a collapse in oil prices in 2014 halted its rapid expansion.

More than half of its 35 remaining drilling rigs were still idle in the fourth quarter, the company’s report showed.

However, Seadrill said it added $1 billion in new orders in the last quarter, ending the year with an order backlog of $2.8 billion.

The Oslo and New York listed firm said last November it had started talks with its bank creditors over $5.7 billion of loans, just 16 months after emerging from multi-year bankruptcy proceedings under U.S. Chapter 11 regulations.

“We have been engaged in a productive dialogue with the lead banks throughout the fourth quarter and into 2020 and we expect to provide a fuller update at the appropriate time,” Dibowitz said.

The company said it could defer up to $500 million in amortization payments until the second quarter of 2022 under the previous agreement reached with creditors.

The company’s overall debt and liabilities stood at $7.4 billion, down from $7.8 billion a year ago, while its cash holding declined to $1.4 billion at the end of 2019 from $2 billion at the start of the year, its accounts showed.

The company reported a net loss of $199 million for the fourth quarter, down from a net loss of $360 million during the same quarter of 2018.
Source: Reuters (Editing by Terje Solsvik)

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