Tony Petrello has been in an executive position with Nabors Industries since 1991. It was that year that he was hired on as the company’s chief operations officer, at a time when the company was rocked by turmoil and had just exited from chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Nabors Industries had a long and storied history. As one of the key players in the development of Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay oil reserves, Nabors Industries had major name recognition among Alaska’s citizens. The company had almost single-handedly developed the North Slope of Alaska’s highly lucrative oil fields. This was a boon to the state. Alaska suddenly found itself awash in oil money, leading to many jobs and economic opportunities. The local Inuit populations were perhaps those who were most positively affected. After having lived for decades in grinding poverty and with their traditional way of life largely destroyed, the local Inuit populations were now able to live a decent life and had many economic opportunities that previously were not there.

But things started going badly for the company throughout the ‘70s in the ‘80s. Throughout this era, the company was badly mismanaged, eventually leading to its insolvency in the late ‘80s. In 1988, Nabors Industries entered into chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company’s future was uncertain.

But then Petrello was brought on board. The longtime mergers and acquisitions attorney, who had a successful career with Baker McKenzie was recognized by management as someone who could lead the company into the 21st century, with a strong vision and inspiring leadership.

Petrello implemented a new strategy, focusing on development of high end, innovative technology that would allow for the economical extraction of North America’s hard oil reserves. This turned out to be an incredibly good bet. By the mid 2000s, Nabors Industries had a portfolio of the most cutting-edge directional drilling equipment of any drilling company in the world. Its equipment was almost exclusively used in the Bakken Shale formation as well as in the Alberta tar sands.


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