North Sea growth and tax rates see US contractor move to Britain

An American oil drilling contractor is ditching the US for its legal headquarters and relocating to the UK, so it can expand its North Sea operations and bring its tax rates into line with international competitors.

Rowan Companies already has substantial operations in the UK and has several prominent Britons on the board. Members include Lord Moynihan, a former Cabinet minister, and Sir Graham Hearne, who ran Enterprise Oil until it was taken over by Royal Dutch Shell 10 years ago.

The company is currently domiciled in Delaware, but will switch to the UK to improve access to key customers in the Europe and Egypt.

Rowan, whose operational headquarters is in Houston, Texas, provides services to the oil and gas industry, including operating rigs for hard-to-drill deep gas wells.

Matt Ralls, chief executive, said: "We formally recognise that the base of operations we first established in the UK more than three decades ago is now a central and efficient location from which we manage the markets."

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