Business Irish

Thursday 17 October 2019

Choppy waters: Majority owner of Harland & Wolff files for bankruptcy

Iconic: The Harland and Wolff shipyard cranes. Photo: Bloomberg
Iconic: The Harland and Wolff shipyard cranes. Photo: Bloomberg

Norwegian oil and gas rig operator Dolphin Drilling filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, leading creditors to seize its key assets in a restructuring that will see the company maintain operations.

In addition to a fleet of four drilling rigs and two drillships, Dolphin is the majority owner of Belfast's Harland & Wolff shipyard, where the infamous Titanic ocean liner was built.

The yard has been for sale since last year when Dolphin, then Fred. Olsen, first announced its restructuring.

"The announced developments in relation to (Dolphin Drilling) are not expected to impact this sales process and we are operating very much on a business-as-usual basis," the yard said in a statement to Reuters.

Formerly known as Fred. Olsen Energy, Dolphin Drilling had debt of just over $1bn (€878m) at the end of 2018 and a net loss for the year of almost $300m (€263m), its annual report shows.

Once a dominant supplier of drilling rigs to oil and gas firms exploring the North Sea, Dolphin was hit hard by a collapse in oil prices from 2014 to 2016 as well as competition from newcomers that drove down rig rates.

While the old holding company will be wound down, its rig-owning subsidiaries were restructured and will continue to offer services to oil firms.

Its share price has fallen 88pc over the past year.


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