More pain in the oil patch CanElson Drilling halves dividend cuts capital

CALGARY — CanElson Drilling Inc. said Monday it will reduce its quarterly dividend by 50%, defer the completion of three new drilling rigs, and reduce its capital budget by 80% as a result of low crude oil and natural gas prices.The Calgary-based company says activity remains relatively strong its expects both activity and pricing levels to decline in 2015 in response to what appears to be a prolonged decline in global oil prices.CanElson said it expects to reduce the active rig count — with the biggest reductions in Saskatchewan and North Dakota.Our continued financial discipline will allow CanElson to weather the impact of sustained low commodity pricesIts capital program will fall to $12.9 million from $63.9 million and its quarterly dividend fall to three cents from six cents per share but the company says CanElson has well-positioned itself to withstand price cycles.“Our modern fleet of drilling rigs and our continued financial discipline will allow CanElson to weather the impact of sustained low commodity prices,” said Randy Hawkings, CanElson’s president and chief executive.Is this the end of the oil market as we know it?Oil storage piles up in Hardisty, but price gap leaves traders at disadvantageThe company says 36 drilling rigs, representing 72% of its fleet, are currently active but the number is expected to fall.It also says construction of three rigs — which were to contracted to a customer — has been delayed indefinitely and negotiations with the customer are ongoing. The company had spent $13.6 million on components for the rigs as of Dec. 31.The company’s next financial report is scheduled for March 2, when 2014 12-month and fourth-quarter results are issued. read more

Olympic torch relay to make stop Saturday at UN Headquarters

Secretary-General Kofi Annan will light a cauldron from the torch’s flame at around at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Joining him at the event will be General Assembly President Julian R. Hunte of St. Lucia, as well as the Greek Alternate Minister for Culture, Fanny Palli-Petralia, and the head of the Athens Organizing Committee, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. Among the 140 relay runners in New York are Toni Jones and Daniel Mejia, two young people whose lives have been deeply affected by conflict and chosen by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to carry the torch into and out of the UN complex. Ms. Jones, 18, was born in Monrovia, Liberia. After being forced to flee the country in 1990 because of political conflict, she and her family spent three years living in a UNICEF-supported refugee camp. During that time, her eight-year-old friend was kidnapped, forced to become a child soldier, and later killed in the conflict, inspiring Ms. Jones to become an influential voice against the use of children as soldiers. Daniel, 17, was born in Queens, New York, after his parents emigrated from Colombia 20 years ago. Daniel’s uncle was the victim of a political assassination in Colombia in 1994. Many of his relatives have received asylum in the United States and now live in Miami and New York City. read more