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Schlumberger: We've reached the bottom

By Daniel J. Graeber
Schlumberger said the worst of the market slump is over, but pressure will remain unless there's a better market rebound. Photo by Christopher Halloran/Shutterstock
Schlumberger said the worst of the market slump is over, but pressure will remain unless there's a better market rebound. Photo by Christopher Halloran/Shutterstock

LONDON, July 22 (UPI) -- The energy market has clearly turned the corner, but the industry still faces headwinds without significant price recovery, Schlumberger's CEO said.

"In the second quarter market conditions worsened further in most parts of our global operations, but in spite of the continuing headwinds we now appear to have reached the bottom of the cycle," Schlumberger Chairman and CEO Paal Kibsgaard said in a statement.

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The world's largest oilfield services company, Schlumberger reported revenue for the three months ending June 30 at $7.1 billion, a 10 percent increase from the previous period, but 20 percent below the same point from 2015.

Crude oil prices have recovered from lows below $30 per barrel to the mid- to upper-$40 range as some balance between supply and demand returns. Price stability in mid-2016 may be stimulating industry confidence, however. Baker Hughes last week reported an increase in U.S. rig activity for the third week in a row.

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Industry counterpart Halliburton, whose proposed merger with Baker Hughes collapsed on anti-trust concerns, said the market has turned the corner, though recovery in exploration and production activity for the second half of the year was expected to be modest.

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While price recovery is stimulating exploration and production activity, year-on-year differences had a durable impact on crude oil production, Kibsgaard said. Total U.S crude oil production is down 10 percent from last year.

Schlumberger took a $646 million restructuring charge because of workforce reductions during the second quarter. Sector weakness, Kibsgaard said, is expected to last through 2016.

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"We are heading more rapidly towards an increasing negative gap between global supply and demand for oil," he said. "This will require significant capability and capacity to reverse, and without pricing recovery the service industry will be challenged to deliver."

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