Tony Petrello leads Nabors Industries on to become directional drilling juggernaut

In 1991, Nabors Industries was a struggling oil services firm that was just emerging from chapter 11 bankruptcy. The batled company had experienced a difficult prior decade, following from its position of preeminence into a state of rapid decay and financial chaos. From this rubble emerged a new company with a new executive team at the helm. One of these executive players was a man by the name of the Tony Petrello, a mergers and acquisitions lawyer who had become famous as one of the most skilled legal minds in the business world.

It was in the early 90s that a tectonic shift in the Nabors Industries strategy began to emerge. Driven by the strategic vision of Petrello, the firm decided to begin concentrating on a then relatively unknown area of oil drilling known as directional drilling. At the time, many of the Nabors Industries shareholders and industry observers thought the strategy was risky, at a minimum, and crazy at worse. There was no real, proven market for directional drilling equipment throughout North America at that time. However, Petrello had the strategic vision to see that America’s easy oil resources were rapidly being depleted. He knew that this would eventually lead to the major oil companies attempting to extract harder shale oil reserves, a type of oil play that necessitates the use of high-tech directional drilling.

Throughout the early to mid 90s, Nabors began developing some of the most technologically advanced directional drilling equipment the world had ever seen. By the late part of that decade, it had a portfolio of drilling machine that were capable of simultaneously operating up to 10 drills at a time, only needing to be operated by a single operator in the cab. This multi-drill platform concept was revolutionary, and it made not only directional drilling but drilling on other types of oil plays more efficient and economical than it had ever been before.

By the mid-2000s, Petrello’s vision for the company began paying off in spades. The fracking boom proved to be a huge boon to the company, with Nabors Industries providing the vast majority of the drilling equipment to all North American hard oil plays. Throughout the 2000s and 2010s, directional drilling became the main source of all North American oil extraction, with Nabors Industries leading the way in the supply of this equipment.

Today, Nabors Industries is a highly diversified oil services company. Petrello’s vision and strategic goals have largely been vindicated.