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Oilfield firm SLB's profit rises on international drilling demand

Published 04/19/2024, 10:16 AM
Updated 04/19/2024, 11:05 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The entrance to oilfield service provider SLB's office in Houston, Texas, showing the former Schlumberger's new name and logo, is seen in this handout image taken June 2023. Courtesy of SLB/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

By Sourasis Bose and Arathy Somasekhar

HOUSTON (Reuters) -Top oilfield services firm SLB reported a 14% rise in first-quarter profit on Friday, in line with analysts' estimates, as higher oil and gas drilling demand in the Middle East and Africa helped offset weakness in North America.

The company, which reaffirmed its previous guidance of mid-teens percentage profit growth for the full year, forecast a seasonal rebound in activity in the Northern Hemisphere in the second quarter, along with robust activity internationally.

Operators could increase investments in production and reservoir recovery to boost efficiency and life of their producing assets as oil demand rises, CEO Olivier Le Peuch said.

SLB's international revenue rose 18% to $7.06 billion, compared with $5.99 billion in the year-ago quarter.

But North America revenue declined 6% to $1.6 billion, falling short of analysts' estimates of $1.65 billion, according to LSEG data, on weaker natural gas prices and consolidation among oil producers, Le Peuch said in an earnings conference call.

Sequentially, revenue declined 3% in North America and in international markets due to seasonality.

International revenue is expected to grow at a mid-single digit percentage rate in the second quarter from the first, while North America revenue could rise at a low-single digit rate, Le Peuch forecast.

Shares of SLB, formerly known as Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB), were down 1.9% at $49.97 in morning trade.

SLB said it aims to return $7 billion to shareholders over the next two years, in part due to its nearly $8 billion acquisition of rival ChampionX.

Shareholder returns will be about $3 billion in 2024 and $4 billion in 2025, the company said.

"It was solid but an unspectacular quarter from Schlumberger," said Third Bridge analyst Peter McNally.

The outlook for the Middle East, the company's largest source of revenue, was uncertain due to restraints by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that will impact some project development and rising geopolitical tensions, McNally added.

Saudi Arabia's plan to lower maximum sustained production capacity and focus on gas development will not impact SLB's ambition for growth in the country, or change the company's guidance for sustained Middle East growth, Le Peuch said.

SLB expects very broad growth and activity uptick in almost all Middle Eastern countries, with the possible exception of Egypt, Le Peuch added.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The entrance to oilfield service provider SLB's office in Houston, Texas, showing the former Schlumberger's new name and logo, is seen in this handout image taken June 2023. Courtesy of SLB/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

The Houston, Texas-based company reported earnings of $1.07 billion, or 74 cents per share, for the quarter ended March 31, compared with $934 million, or 65 cents per share, last year.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned 75 cents per share, in line with analysts estimates. Revenue of $8.71 billion marginally beat expectations of $8.69 billion.

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