Schlumberger Counts On International Business To Offset Permian Headwinds

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Schlumberger Limited
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Schlumberger  (NYSE:SLB) published its Q3 2018 results on Friday, posting earnings that beat market expectations, although revenues fell short of street expectations. The company faced headwinds in the U.S. land market, due to weaker activity in the Permian basin and softness in the hydraulic fracturing space. However, this was offset by stronger performance in the drilling group and strong sequential growth in international markets, where higher oil prices are bolstering exploration and production activity. Below, we provide a brief overview of the company’s results and what lies ahead.

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Permian Slowdown Impacts North American Operations 

While Schlumberger’s North American business grew by about 23% on a year-over-year basis to $3.2 billion, sequential growth slowed down significantly (1.5%) compared to prior quarters. While the company indicated that it continued to gain market share in the artificial lift and drilling space, a slowdown in the Permian basin impacted the company’s hydraulic fracturing activity. Operators have slowed down activity in the Permian, which is one of the largest oil and gas basins in the U.S., due to a lack of pipeline capacity to transport crude from the region. Moreover, well productivity gains for tight oil appear to be tapering off in regions including the Permian and the Eagle Ford, with operators likely to see lower incremental returns on investments in existing wells. While this could point to lower investments in these regions in the interim, overall E&P spending will eventually have to rise in the U.S. market to maintain output and cater to demand.

International Recovery Gathers Pace 

Schlumberger’s international business had a solid quarter, driven by firming oil prices and rising activity levels across markets. While Latin America and the Middle East saw higher activity, driven by national oil companies and independent operators, the Europe, CIS, and Africa segment saw strong activity driven by Russia. The company has indicated that it expects its international equipment capacity to be fully utilized by the end of this year, potentially allowing it better leverage with pricing going forward. The outlook for the international market is positive, as additional exploration and production-related investments are likely to be required to replace the Venezuelan and Iranian oil that is leaving the market.  Schlumberger stands to benefit from this upswing, considering its broad technology portfolio, geographic footprint as well as its emphasis on performance-based contracts and integrated projects.

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