Seadrill looks to move from Norway, CEO quits

Wed Oct 3, 2012 10:28am EDT
 
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By Henrik Stolen

OSLO (Reuters) - Shipping tycoon John Fredriksen announced on Wednesday plans to move management at Seadrill (SDRL.OL: Quote) out of Norway, prompting the chief executive of the world's biggest deepsea drilling rig owner to leave and opening a new chapter in Fredriksen's controversial love-hate relationship with his former homeland.

Seadrill said it is looking at several alternative locations for its central management, with London, Dubai, Singapore and Houston under consideration after concluding that its current base in Stavanger, the Norwegian oil industry's capital on the west coast, is too expensive and too remote for a company seeking to do business globally.

"Stavanger may constrain Seadrill's aggressive growth plans, for which access to qualified personnel is critical," the firm said. "The Norwegian cost level and distance from Seadrill's core markets makes travel and logistics cumbersome when managing world-wide operations."

Chief Financial Officer Rune Magnus Lundetrae added: "We have a lot of oil and offshore competence in Norway but we are doing some complex capital transactions globally and that sort of expertise is not the easiest to find in Norway."

Seadrill's chief executive Alf Thorkildsen disagreed with the step and announced his departure, to be replaced by Fredrik Halvorsen, a key executive at two Fredriksen companies, well services firm Archer (ARCHER.OL: Quote) and Frontline (FRO.OL: Quote).

"The message from the company was clear that they are considering moving and this should be priority number one," Thorkildsen was quoted as telling Norwegian online news portal E24. "So I decided it was time to go."

Thorkildsen was reported as saying that Norwegian costs were indeed very high but Fredriksen's "attitude" to Norwegian authorities was a factor.

Thorkildsen was unavailable for immediate comment.   Continued...