Hercules Offshore files bankruptcy protection

NEW YORK (AP) — Oilfield services company Hercules Offshore filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Thursday with crude prices hovering around six-year lows.

The filing was orchestrated with bondholders, however, and the company expects to restructure its debt and emerge from bankruptcy protection rather quickly.

“The overwhelming support by the noteholders of the plan will enable Hercules to expedite the restructuring process and emerge by mid-fall,” said CEO John Rynd in a printed statement. “We do not expect any interruption to our daily operations as a result of today’s filing.”

Major oil and gas drillers have been squeezed by the plunge in oil prices and have slashed capital expenditures, particularly this year. The first to feel the pinch from those spending cuts are often oilfield services companies, which do much of the drilling and field maintenance, both offshore and on land.

Hercules last month reported that its quarterly revenue had tumbled 67 percent. The company cut its fleet of rigs in half due to decreased activity.

In its bankruptcy filing Thursday, the Houston company listed $1.3 billion in debt and $546.3 million in assets.

In morning trading Thursday, shares of Hercules Offshore Inc. were worth about 8 cents. They were trading above $3 a year ago.

Crude prices on Thursday fell to $42.30, down more than 2 percent.

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