* Schlumberger gets out of non-core rig ownership business
* Saxon wants to be its go-to driller, enters Middle East
By Braden Reddall
Dec 5 Schlumberger is selling its rig
management business to a Canadian company that it part owns, as
the world's largest oilfield services company sharpens its
focus on providing services for rigs instead of owning them.
Saxon, bought by Schlumberger and private equity firm First
Reserve in 2008, said on Monday it would take over 14 land
drilling rigs and their crews in Oman, Pakistan and Venezuela,
adding 1,100 people as it expands into the Middle East.
The deal should strengthen the ties of the two companies in
well construction and other rig services, while getting
Schlumberger out of a non-core business, Saxon Chief Executive
Mick McNulty told Reuters in a phone interview.
"We'd like to be seen as their preferred driller," McNulty
said of his company's 49 percent shareholder.
Saxon and Schlumberger were already partners in Mexico and
Colombia before the $560 million takeover in 2008. Saxon also
has drilling and workover rigs in Canada, the United States,
Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador.
Saxon will own 95 drilling and workover rigs and employ
2,700 people as a result of the latest deal, for which no
financial terms were disclosed.
McNulty said the Calgary-based company is building a
back-office center in Dubai for its move into the Middle East
region, which follows its recent expansion into Australia.
"We like the idea of having more diversity of revenue,"
McNulty said, adding that its main South American market still
offered some growth opportunities.
For its part, Schlumberger is taking another step away from
rig ownership, following an asset swap in May that handed
Russia's Eurasia Drilling Co 19 drilling rigs, 34
workover rigs and 23 sidetracking rigs in Western Siberia in
exchange for Eurasia's drilling services assets.
Schlumberger had already shed its offshore drilling rigs
over the past decade, first selling the 44 rigs of Sedco Forex
to Transocean Ltd in 1999 for $3.2 billion, followed
by a couple more sold to Noble Corp four years later.