Drilling services company Halliburton upbeat about North America

The company posted mixed results, however, with revenue lower than the sector leader, Schlumberger, by about $2 billion.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Jan. 22, 2018 at 8:37 AM
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Jan. 22 (UPI) -- After a year of volatility, the recovery in crude oil prices so far this year could support growth in North America, drilling services company Halliburton said.

Halliburton posted mixed results for the fourth quarter, taking an $805 million loss. Adjusted income, not counting the charges from U.S. tax reform or operations in strife-torn Venezuela, was $462 million, up from the $365 million in the third quarter. Total fourth quarter revenue was $5.9 million, up 9 percent from the third quarter.

President and CEO Jeff Miller said last year was a "dynamic year" for the oil and gas sector, but the company was able to maintain value in an industry that saw sharp contractions in previous years.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in January 2017, with support from major producers like Russia, implemented a deal that sidelined about 2 percent of the global demand for oil in an effort to balance an oversupplied market. OPEC in November decided to extend the deal through 2018 and support was given during a weekend meeting in Oman for a push through 2019.

OPEC's effort last year helped establish a floor price under crude oil of around $50 per barrel. This year started with a historic surge in oil prices, touching $70 for the first time in four years. The price for Brent, the global benchmark, has since pulled back to around $68.50 per barrel.

That's enough, however, to support strong growth forecasts for U.S. shale oil operators who were hobbled during the downturn, but still proved to be more resilient than expected.

Miller said his take so far of the energy sector trajectory was upbeat.

"I am optimistic about what I see in 2018," he said in a statement. "Commodity prices support increasing activity in North America and I am encouraged by the increase in tender activity and the positive discussions we are having with our international customers."

North American revenue at $3.4 billion marked a 7 percent improvement from the third quarter. The company said the growth was supported mainly throughout the U.S. shale sector, but also from more drilling in the U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The United States is on pace to produce an average of 10 million barrels of oil per day and U.S. President Donald Trump is proposing to open nearly all of the territorial waters up to drillers.

Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield services company, posted revenue of $8.1 billion for the three months ending Dec. 31, up 3 percent from the previous term and 15 percent higher than the same period in 2016.

Schlumberger Chairman and CEO Paal Kibsgaard said a challenging business environment over the last few years meant the company had to reassess its entire product line and now the only product that doesn't look to meet return expectations is the seismic acquisition business, a sector used to assess reservoir potentials.

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