1 of 2 | Baker Hughes, a company that provides support services for the oil and gas industry, reported first quarter profits were nearly double from year-ago levels. File photo by Pat Benic/ UPI | License Photo
April 19 (UPI) -- Oil and gas services firm Baker Hughes said Wednesday that net income during the first quarter was nearly double year-ago levels, a performance the company said showed it was able to move through a rough market landscape intact.
"While 2023 has already started off with some macro volatility, we remain optimistic on the outlook for energy services and Baker Hughes," Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Simonelli said. "Our diverse portfolio features long cycle and short cycle businesses that position us well to navigate any periods of variability that may occur across the energy sector."
The company reported net revenue of $289 million for the first quarter, about 24% less than during the fourth quarter but 99% higher than year-ago levels. The company saw $7.6 billion in new orders come in during the three-month period ending March 31, down 5% from fourth-quarter levels but 12% higher than during the same period in 2022.
The overall market, not to mention crude oil prices, has been volatile for much of the first quarter. A post-pandemic rebound in China is providing some degree of overall support, though the International Monetary Fund is fretting over a global economic downturn.
A decision, meanwhile, from OPEC+, the core members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies such as Russia, to trim 1.6 million barrels per day from production come May has not led to the higher prices that would incentivize spending on exploration and production.
Brent crude oil, the global benchmark for the price of oil, was expected to rally to triple digits after the announcement from OPEC+, though it's been trading in the mid-$80 range for the better part of the month.
The company published its rig counts for March, showing net activity across North America declined. In the United States, the total decline for March was in natural gas work, with activity in the Marcellus shale basin in the upper Midwest performing the worst.
Nevertheless, Simonelli said the current market is "unique" as spending programs for its customers appear less sensitive to market swings than during prior years.
Despite the recent decline in activity targeting natural gas, Simonelli added that the sector looked primed for growth.
"As the world increasingly recognizes the crucial role natural gas will play in the energy transition, serving as both a transition and destination fuel, the case for a multi-decade growth opportunity in gas is steadily improving as both a transition and destination fuel," he said.
The United States is a world leader in both crude oil and natural gas production. If it isn't already, it's also the world leader in exports of liquefied natural gas, a commodity that's taking up some of Russia's market share in the European economy.
Shares in Baker Hughes were up 2.3% as of 10:30 a.m. EDT to trader at $30.17.