The improvement in revenues and earnings for the first quarter of 2003 reflects increased activity in certain of our markets and the incremental contributions of rigs redeployed to more active markets subsequent to the first quarter of 2002. In the Gulf of Mexico, the improved results were positively impacted by the operation for a full quarter of nine jackup rigs and one semisubmersible deployed to Mexico subsequent to the first quarter of 2002. Average utilization of the Company's Gulf of Mexico jackup fleet during the first quarter of 2003 increased to 62% from 34% during the first quarter of 2002, and from 58% during the fourth quarter of 2002. Average daily revenues per rig during the first quarter of 2003 increased to $30,500 from $26,100 during the prior year first quarter and from $28,500 during the fourth quarter of 2002.
Results for the Company's international land operations and E&P Services segment increased from the first and fourth quarters of 2002, driven by markedly higher activity levels in Argentina. Improved results were also driven by increased utilization in Colombia and Ecuador and the impact of a full quarter's contribution from a 3,000-horsepower rig deployed in Kazakhstan during the fourth quarter of 2002.
Results from international offshore operations were comparable with the first and fourth quarters of 2002, reflecting the continued high utilization of the Company's floating rigs and international jackups. The positive impact of the Pride South Pacific's operation for the full quarter was offset by downtime for scheduled periodic surveys on the Pride South America and Pride South Atlantic during the quarter, as well as unscheduled repairs to leg damage to the Pride Montana. Results were also negatively affected by the cessation of a management contract for a semisubmersible rig in South Africa.
"We are beginning to see the benefits of our strategy started over a year ago to build our contract backlog with long-term work commitments," said Paul A. Bragg, Pride's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Our sequential results have improved over the past few quarters and should continue to do so as we wind down scheduled periodic surveys on our major assets and continue to redeploy rigs from our idle capacity. We are now benefiting from an improving environment in South America, and have recently seen a significant improvement in demand for our Gulf of Mexico platform rigs. We also have been successful in continuing a process of refinancing our debt to significantly reduce interest costs. As a result of these actions, we expect to generate higher sequential quarterly earnings throughout the balance of 2003."
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