A record year for Unit Corp. helped land the Tulsa-based oil and natural gas company near the top of the Oklahoma Inc. list.
After a downturn in the energy industry in 2014, the company saw significant growth since 2017.
“We are very happy to be back into a growth pattern,” Unit CEO Larry Pinkston said. “We are back into a growth mode in all of our three segments, which is exciting.”
The company is known for its BOSS rigs, which stands for box-on-box self-rising structure. The rigs can be torn down and rebuilt at a new site in a matter of days, and there is a growing demand for the rigs.
Unit is operating 11 BOSS rigs, with plans to add two more in early 2019 and a third by midyear to bring the total to 14. The company’s total fleet is composed of 96 drilling rigs.
“It is a very premium drilling rig that seems to be very well received by our customers in the industry as they’re requesting more of them being built,” Pinkston said.
“The performance of the BOSS Rig is incredible, and we’ve got 100 percent of our BOSS fleet contracted,” said Michael Earl, Unit’s vice president of investor relations.
The growth in BOSS rig demand comes alongside adjustments in other areas.
“For the last several years the industry, we’ve all been tweaking our operations,” Pinkston said. “We’ve had a little higher emphasis on improving our oil production, and that’s because of the disparity between costs for oil and natural gas.”
As the market improved, Unit executives were careful not to overextend the company.
“In the good periods we’ve tried not to get overly aggressive in layering in assets,” Pinkston said. “We’ve always tried to manage our debt levels and stay within our capital budgets. We expect to grow without having to borrow any money, which not everyone out there can say.”
Unit turned a record year even with its conservative approach.
“Without doing significant acquisitions, we’ve grown larger than we ever have before,” Pinkston said. “Our oil and gas reserves are up 25 percent last year. We’ve done that in the past, but it was always the result of a significant acquisition.”
Pinkston expects the company to continue focusing on maintaining a strong balance sheet moving into the next year and continuing its existing work. The strategy gives the company the agility to move quickly in the market, Pinkston said.
“That’s always been a priority for us and our board — to maintain that flexibility,” he said.
Pinkston said the company will continue work in many of the plays it currently operates and will continue to lead a conservative and fiscally responsible approach.
“You’ll see companies that are in some of the more nameplate basins,” Pinkston said. “We’re not in those plays, and we’re not in those plays for a reason. The upfront costs of getting in those plays make it very difficult on the economics of drilling wells and running a program in those areas.
“We have prospects and plays we’ve been drilling wells in our backyard for 30 years or 50 years, and the economics are just as good,” Pinkston said. “That’s one of the messages we go out and tell our investors.”
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