Seadrill Limited (SDRL) reached an agreement to extend the debt maturities on its West Eminence rig from December 31 to April 30, 2017. This allows the company to postpone its debt restructuring plans until that date. Share prices rose 5.53% on the news to close Wednesday at $2.29. (See also: How Seadrill’s Stock Price Fell 10% in 6 Months.)
The rig, built in 2009, is currently without a contract and cold stacked in the Canary Islands. It had been under contract to Petrobras (PBR) for six years until 2015, when the Brazilian oil company canceled a three-year extension on this and the West Taurus rig, eliminating $1.1 billion from Seadrill’s backlog.
This gives Seadrill some breathing room, as it has been scrambling to find a way to cover these December debt maturities. There have been rumors that chairman and largest shareholder, John Fredriksen, was planning to lend the company up to $1.2 billion to cover these maturities, but that deal has yet to materialize.
Seadrill has one of the youngest fleets of the major offshore drillers, having built 14 semi-submersible rigs and 16 jack-up rigs during the oil boom between 2008 and 2013 before focusing on ultra-deepwater drillships with their higher day rates. But as oil prices fell, day rates have fallen on rigs as well, nearing break-even rates. (See also: Buying Seadrill Stock? Risks & Opportunities to Consider.)
This young fleet has left Seadrill with significant debts. As of 2Q 2016, its net interest bearing debt sits at $9.1 billion, down nearly $1.5 billion from the previous year, but still significant. Considering the debt repayment schedule puts the company on the hook for around $2.5 billion on June 30 for the next four years, it’s hard to see how those payments as currently structured can be met. Seadrill reported operating income of just over $1 billion last year. Add another $4 billion of purchase commitments over the next three years, and you’ve got problems.
Without some kind of long-term change - further debt restructuring, changes in oil prices, or cash infusions - these debt repayments will be the rocky shores that Seadrill crashes upon. Hopefully, it can work with its lenders further to spare the company this fate.