How good is U.S. shale? Not good enough to buoy Weatherford

Weatherford employee, 1985.

Weatherford International, one of the largest oil field services firms in the world, struggled to boost global revenues last quarter, despite help from U.S. shale drillers, but succeeded in cutting costs and trimming losses.

Weatherford, whose operations are based in Houston, reported on Friday that revenue fell $200 million or 13 percent to $1.39 billion year over year, and $20 million or about 1 percent over the last quarter of 2016.

Losses fell to $448 million, down $50 million or 10 percent year over year, and $100 million or 18 percent better sequentially. Losses per share improved from 61 cents in the first quarter of last year to 45 cents last quarter.

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North America revenue increased 1 percent since the last quarter of 2016, despite the shutdown of Weatherford’s U.S. pressure pumping operations. International revenue dipped 2 percent and land drilling rig revenue declined 6 percent.

Weatherford reported some other highlights: Operating margins improved. The company cut costs and closed six manufacturing facilities. And it agreed on a joint-venture with the world’s largest oil field services firm, Schlumberger.

Still, new President and Chief Executive Officer Mark A. McCollum said the company had cutting left to do.

“Our highest priority will be to improve and strengthen our balance sheet,” McCollum said in a statement. “Through more disciplined cost management, we will continue to streamline our operations, becoming a more efficient and leaner organization.”

McCollum noted that the venture with Schlumberger, which the companies are calling OneStimSM, creates one of the largest hydraulic fracturing fleets in the industry.

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