Rabat – Morocco launched fourth generation (4G) mobile phone license auctions on Monday, the telecoms regulator said, as the country looks to increase access to the Internet.The Telecommunications Regulatory National Agency will give further details to operators on Nov. 17.Morocco had aimed to be one of the first African countries to introduce super-fast 4G telecom services, but the move was delayed since 2012. The regulator did not give reasons for the delay. Morocco’s telecommunications market is dominated by Etisalat’s Maroc Telecom, Orange affiliate Medi Telecom, and Inwi, owned by a holding company controlled by the Moroccan royal family and Kuwait’s Zain .Mobile phone penetration hovers around 130 percent of Morocco’s 34 million population, and the country had 8 million Internet subscribers by the end of September 2014, up more than 60 percent from the previous year.
CALGARY — Precision Drilling Corp. is bumping up this year’s capital spending by nearly a third in response to strong customer demand for its drilling equipment.The Calgary-based oil and gas service firm said Monday its budget this year will be $833 million, up from its previous forecast of $634 million.The additional spending will go toward four additional new rigs to be delivered in the United States in the second half of 2014 and five more to be delivered in early 2015.In total, Precision Drilling plans to deliver 16 new rigs to customers this year.Since 2009, Precision has been turning a greater focus to providing equipment that’s geared toward tapping technically challenging reservoirs. Its so-called “Super Series” fleet consists of “highly efficient, highly mobile” rigs that are designed to drill wells horizontally.“Over the past five years, we have transformed our fleet and today we have Super Series rigs operating in virtually every unconventional basin in North America. With today’s announcement of an additional nine new-build rigs, eight of which have firm customer commitments, we expect to have 222 Super Series rigs operating by early 2015 and an increased capacity to deliver two new-build rigs per month to start 2015,” said CEO Kevin Neveu in a release.“The cornerstone to Precision’s build program remains our strict fiscal discipline insuring we achieve contracts from customers that meet our targets before a rig is completed for delivery.”Also Monday, Precision posted first-quarter net earnings of $102 million, up from $93 million a year earlier.The profits amounted to 35 cents per share, a penny shy of the average analyst estimate compiled by Thomson Reuters, but two cents higher than a year ago.The company said revenue was 13% higher at $672 million, mainly due to higher pricing and drilling activity in Canada, the United States and internationally.Precision Drilling said Canada has been experiencing an increase in drilling for natural gas and gas liquids in northwestern Alberta and northeastern British Columbia — resources that could potentially be exported to energy-hungry Asian countries through multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas terminals on the West Coast.“In Canada, our drilling activity during the first quarter was slightly higher than last year, and was supported by growing customer demand throughout the winter drilling season,” said Neveu.“While challenges must still be overcome to fully realize the Canadian LNG development potential, we remain very encouraged by the continued support demonstrated by the key stakeholders in this very important Canadian resource. We believe additional new-build and upgrade opportunities will continue to emerge as these projects gather momentum.” Precision shares were up nearly 1.4% to $14.03 in late-morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.