Revenue in the first quarter of this year was $44 million lower than the first quarter in 2012 mainly due to a decrease in activity days in both Canada and the United States, partially offset by higher dayrates in both markets and increased international activity. Compared to the first quarter of 2012, revenue from our Contract Drilling Services and Completion and Production Services segments were both down 7%.
Adjusted EBITDA margin (adjusted EBITDA as a percentage of revenue) was 36% this quarter, compared to 38% in the first quarter of 2012. The 36% adjusted EBIDTA margin was a result of higher dayrates from the new build and upgraded Tier 1 rigs that we have deployed over the past few years offset by the impact of lower utilization on fixed costs. Our portfolio of term customer contracts, a highly variable operating cost structure and economies achieved through vertical integration of the supply chain all help us manage our adjusted EBITDA margins.
Our vision is to be recognized as the High Performance, High Value provider of services for global energy exploration and development. We work toward that vision by defining and measuring our results against strategic priorities. Our 2013 priorities are threefold:
-- Execute our High Performance, High Value strategy Continue to drive execution excellence in our people, internal systems and infrastructure supporting our world class safety, training and development programs, upgrading and consolidating our Nisku operations and leveraging our investments in our Houston and Red Deer Tech Centers.-- Execute on existing organic growth opportunities Remain poised to seize growth opportunities, leveraging our balance sheet strength and flexibility. Deliver new build rigs to the North American market and upgrade existing drilling rigs to higher specification assets on customer contracts. Grow High Performance, High Value service lines for unconventional field development, such as integrated directional drilling, coil tubing and rentals.-- Build our brand Uphold our reputation and market breadth in North America while strengthening our presence in select oilfield markets internationally.
The West Texas Intermediate price of oil has remained consistent with the 2012 average while natural gas prices have improved.
Year ended Three months ended Mar 31, Dec 31, 2013 2012 2012----------------------------------------------------------------------------Average oil and natural gas pricesOil West Texas Intermediate (per barrel) (US$) 94.35 102.84 94.13Natural gas Canada AECO (per MMBtu) (Cdn$) 3.20 2.15 2.39 United States Henry Hub (per MMBtu) (US$) 3.49 2.45 2.75----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Summary for the three months ended March 31, 2013:
-- Operating earnings (see "Additional GAAP Measures" in this news release) this quarter were $130 million and 22% of revenue, compared to $171 million and 27% of revenue in 2012. Operating earnings were negatively impacted by the decrease in activity in most of our North American based operations compared to the first quarter in 2012.-- General and administrative expenses this quarter were $39 million or $1 million higher than the first quarter of 2012.-- Finance charges were $23 million, an increase of $1 million compared with the first quarter of 2012.-- Average revenue per utilization day for contract drilling rigs increased in the first quarter of 2013 to US$23,991 from the prior year first quarter of US$23,225 in the United States and increased in Canada to $22,299 in the first quarter of 2013 from $21,091 for the first quarter of 2012. The increase in revenue rates for the first quarter in Canada and the United States in part reflects the dayrates achieved from additional Tier 1 and upgraded rigs entering the fleet compared to the prior year quarter. In addition, average dayrates in Canada were higher due to the pass through of increased labour costs, while in the U.S. average dayrates were higher because of the effect of turnkey revenue spread over a lower activity base. In Canada, for the first quarter of 2013, 39% of Precision's utilization days were achieved from drilling rigs working under term contracts compared to 36% in the 2012 comparative period. In the United States, for the first quarter of 2013, 59% of Precision's utilization days were generated from rigs working under term contracts compared to 79% in the 2012 comparative period. Turnkey revenue for the first quarter of 2013 was US$12 million, the same as in the 2012 comparative period. Within Precision's Completion and Production Services segment, average hourly rates for service rigs were $813 in the first quarter of 2013 compared to $819 in the first quarter of 2012.-- Average operating costs per utilization day for drilling rigs increased in the first quarter of 2013 to US$14,813 from the prior year first quarter of US$13,860 in the United States while in Canada costs increased to $9,949 in 2013 from $9,691 in 2012. The cost increase per day in the United States was primarily due to turnkey and fixed costs spread over a lower activity base. The cost increase in Canada was primarily due to a labour rate increase that became effective in the fourth quarter of 2012 and fixed costs spread over a lower activity base. Within Precision's Completion and Production Services segment, average hourly operating costs for service rigs in Canada increased to $565 in the first quarter of 2013 as compared to $549 in the first quarter of 2012 primarily due to costs associated with coil tubing.-- Precision realized revenue from directional services of $37 million in the first quarter of 2013 in line with the prior year period.-- Funds provided by operations in the first quarter of 2013 were $145 million, a decrease of $103 million from the prior year comparative quarter of $248 million. In addition to lower earnings for the quarter compared to last year we paid $71 million in tax in the current quarter compared to $1 million in the prior year period.-- Capital expenditures for the purchase of property, plant and equipment were $131 million in the first quarter, a decrease of $91 million over the same period in 2012. Capital spending for the first quarter of 2013 included $77 million for expansion capital, $37 million for upgrade capital and $17 million for the maintenance of existing assets and infrastructure spending.