Puerto Rico's Other No-Bid Contractor Says It's No Whitefish


Even though it’s best known for fracking and only been in the business of restoring downed power lines for a few months,
Mammoth Energy Services Inc.
 got a no-bid, $187 million contract to restore electricity to hurricane-ravaged
Puerto Rico

That’s drawn the attention of skeptical U.S. lawmakers who helped lead the charge to get canceled a $300 million contract awarded to
Whitefish Energy Holdings LLC
. Of particular concern are similarities in the contracts such as language that could prevent federal oversight of the work.

That clause raises “additional questions about the contracting review process for recovery efforts in Puerto Rico,” the bipartisan group of lawmakers from the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote in a recent
to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Mammoth executives bristle at the comparison to Whitefish and say the company — which saw its stock surge 19 percent when it landed the job — is up to the task.

When it brings in oil drilling equipment in far-flung locales like Alberta, Canada, it also trucks in houses, food and, even, recreational outlets for the oil-field workers. That logistics work was the key to getting the contract with the Prepa.

“We’re a substantive organization with 1,400 employees,” Mark Layton, Mammoth’s chief financial officer, said in an interview. “What we went to Prepa with was a turnkey solution — personnel, equipment, security, as well as housing — to go in and supply power.”

Ricardo Ramos, the executive director of the
Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority
that awarded the two contracts, is scheduled to appear Tuesday before a
Senate committee
to discuss the recovery efforts. No one from Mammoth is scheduled to testify.

Related: Why States Took So Long to Dispatch Disaster Aid to Puerto Rico

Under its contract with Prepa, Mammoth is now housing workers on full-service barges berthed offshore the island. The company also has two 180-foot “fast boats” set to transport up to 72 people and supplies from Miami three times a week, and one DC-9 aircraft. Each of the 250 skilled lineman brought in to work on rebuilding the power lines — and the equipment they need to do their work — are being billed at $4,000 a day.

But there are also reasons for skepticism. Mammoth just purchased two small companies in the electricity business this year and has no experience with a project this big. The contract with Prepa for $200 million is more than the company’s total revenue in the third quarter.