February 14, 2013 / 11:28 AM / 5 years ago

Precision Drilling posts first loss in two years on charges

(Reuters) - Precision Drilling Corp (PD.TO), Canada’s largest oil and gas drilling contractor, posted a fourth-quarter loss, its first in nine quarters, as it recorded charges related to decommissioning of some of its less-efficient rigs.

The net loss was C$116 million ($115.7 million), or 42 Canadian cents per share, compared with a profit of C$28 million, or 10 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 9 percent to C$534 million.

Precision, which operates about a quarter of Canada’s onshore drilling rigs, has been affected by a decline in drilling for natural gas.

The Calgary-based company said it recorded an impairment charge of C$192 million in the quarter ended December 31 related to the decommissioning of 52 lower-tier drilling rigs.

The company also expects capital expenditure of C$526 million this year, down from the C$868 million it spent last year.

    Drilling for natural gas has mostly been in decline for more than a year - the count is down nearly 55 percent since peaking in 2011 at 936.

    Precision’s shares closed at C$9.01 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday. They have lost about a fifth of their value over the past 12 months.

    Reporting by Shounak Dasgupta in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel

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