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Our History

Since our founding in 1952 by Clair Nabors, our company has been driven by growth and innovation.



In the 1960s, we pioneered the use of camps to support drilling activity, engineered new methods for making crew changes and led the pack as the first company to staff women in our camps. Our innovations in Alaska – where we pioneered the development and use of modular rigs and moving systems, and would later drill the world’s first horizontal well – continue to be used today.



In 1963, we set the bar for drilling in Alaska, drilling the discovery well for ARCO in what would become the giant Prudhoe Bay Field on Alaska’s North Slope. We went on to drill BP’s first successful well in that field.



In 1974, our advances attracted the attention of the Guggenheim family, owners of New York-based company Anglo Energy. Anglo acquired control of Nabors Drilling. After a decade of ownership, two investors, Gene Isenberg and Marty Whitman, acquired a sizable position in the company following bankruptcy. 



In 1986, Isenberg and Whitman took control of the company and changed the name from Anglo to Nabors. Isenberg became CEO.



In 1988, Chairman and CEO Isenberg identified Westburne Drilling as our Company’s first international acquisition with operations in the Middle East. This success began an era of growth and acquisitions for Nabors that would continue for more than two decades.



In 1990, Nabors acquired Loffland Brothers Drilling. That same year, Nabors opened its corporate headquarters in Houston. 


In 1991, Anthony G. Petrello joined Nabors as vice chair, president and chief operating officer. 



Grace Drilling was one such drilling contractor, and its 1993 acquisition by Nabors was a deal so good it is unlikely to be repeated. Nabors added 167 rigs to our fleet for only $32 million – approximately 15 cents on the replacement dollar.



Nabors continued to grow, expanding to new segments and offerings. The acquisition of a hydraulic slant drilling rig from Canada-based Canrig, which had just completed construction of a portable top drive prototype, put Nabors into the drilling equipment business. Acquiring Sundowner expanded our presence in offshore drilling. The purchase of Epoch Well Services in 1997 put Nabors into the instrumentation market and was the first step in expanding our wellsite content offering, including drilling software such as ROCKit® and REVit®. In 2010, the acquisition of Superior Well Services expanded our offering to include completion and production services.  



During late 2011, Anthony G. Petrello was appointed to succeed Gene Isenberg as CEO. This marked a shift in the Company’s strategy, as Petrello recognized the importance of focusing on technology differentiation.  

We refocused and reprioritized to leverage our extensive experience and engineering capabilities to deliver increased automation in the drilling process. Strategic actions were proactively taken to better align the organization with our business strategy. 

Broadly speaking, new technology in the drilling sector generally originates in deepwater and international markets, and is mainly the domain of the largest service companies.  We assessed the U.S. land market as technology-starved, and we set out to find those areas where there could be quick wins. 



We deployed a new generation of pad-optimal rigs for the U.S. land market, including the PACE®-X800 Nabors SmartRig® with advanced walking capabilities for multi-well pad drilling. We also worked on improving the “brains” of our rigs and developed the state-of-the-art Rigtelligent® rig operating control system.  



We exited the completion and production services business to renew our focus on drilling and technology. Shortly thereafter, we created a new business division called Nabors Drilling Solutions or NDS, to develop, integrate and automate drilling services traditionally not performed by drilling contractors, such as managed pressure drilling, casing running and directional drilling. Historically, these services have been provided by third-party service companies who come to the rig with a complete infrastructure of products, equipment and staff.  Our thesis is that, given today’s technologies, this model is not very efficient.  

We believe the drilling rig can serve as the delivery platform for automated and integrated rig services. By integrating rig components and services in to the rig’s operating system, we are able to minimize the need for third parties and also provide increased levels of automation, remote monitoring and data analytics.


As we implement new levels of drilling automation and analytics, the acquisition of Tesco® Corporation strengthens our ability to accelerate and scale deployment while continuing to innovate new technologies for the next era of drilling.