Dolphin Drilling Files for Bankruptcy in Restructuring Plan

A Dolphin Drilling rig stacked near Flekkefjord, Norway (file image courtesy Dolphin)

Published Jun 26, 2019 9:25 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Norway-based offshore rig operator Dolphin Drilling, formerly Fred. Olsen Energy, has filed for bankruptcy in a plan that will shed about $700 million in debt and transfer control to its creditors. 

"Dolphin Drilling ASA’s operating subsidiaries have now been transferred to a new holding company, Dolphin Drilling Holdings Limited . . . which is incorporated in Jersey and will be net-debt free, with a strong balance sheet and increased financial flexibility," the new company said in a statement. Like its predecessor, the new firm will also do business as "Dolphin Drilling."

The bankruptcy is part of a large-scale financial restructuring led by a majority of Dolphin's creditors, who are advised by hedge fund SVP Global. The plan includes the installation of a new management team headed by ex-Songa Offshore CEO Bjornar Iversen. “We are delighted that Dolphin Drilling has now emerged in a strong position for the future. In addition to the company’s focused, nimble fleet and high-quality team, we now have the firm financial footing we need to win new business. I look forward to working with the team to ensure that the company fulfills its full potential," Iversen said in a statement. 

Prior to the bankruptcy, SVP Global said that Dolphin's 2013-built ultradeepwater drillship Bolette Dolphin would be sold in order to refocus efforts on the firm's mid-water business. Dolphin has also said that it plans to scrap the drillship Belford Dolphin. The remaining units in the fleet - MODUs Blackford Dolphin, Bideford Dolphin, Borgland Dolphin and Byford Dolphin - are all in layup in western Norway. 

Dolphin is the latest in a string of offshore drilling companies to go through bankruptcy proceedings. Competitors Seadrill, Paragon and Hercules all took the same path between 2015 and 2017, but with varied outcomes: Paragon was acquired, Hercules was liquidated, and Seadrill emerged with a stronger balance sheet.