OTC: Will oil majors devour services companies?



Schlumberger feels comfortably independent.

Government-run oil companies like Norway’s StatoilHydro and Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Aramco< are increasingly competing with international oil companies like Exxon Mobil and BP. But oil services companies like Schlumberger and Halliburton are in demand for both.
Bill Coates, president of Schlumberger's North America division, says he's not too worried that the oil majors will start gobbling up oil services companies, big and small, to give them an edge.
Coates spoke today at a breakfast presentation sponsored by UK Trade & Investment, the business development agency of the British government, which has a big presence at this year's Offshore Technology Conference.
He says oilfield services companies tend to be "asset poor," meaning their main assets aren't so much equipment but human. Therefore, if they are acquired, the buyer takes a risk because "the assets are people and people can leave," Coates says.
So he's not worried that a supermajor may have its eye on Schlumberger.
"It would be an unusual risk to spend so much money for an asset that is portable," he says.