Schlumberger wraps up business in Iran after loss, US probe

HOUSTON – Schlumberger finished shutting down its Iranian business in the second quarter last year after losing $69 million and facing a U.S. probe into its activities in several sanctioned countries, new regulatory filings show.

The world’s largest oil field services company collected $102 million in revenue working for the National Iranian Oil Co. and its affiliates last year. Schlumberger had previously disclosed that a U.S. grand jury was investigating its activities in Iran, Syria, North Sudan and Cuba — economically sanctioned countries — and that it would exit Iran by 2013.

In its annual 10-K filed Friday, Schlumberger did not go into detail about its net loss in Iran last year, but said it paid taxes to the Iranian government and bought other governmental services like utilities and transportation.

Schlumberger spokesman Joao Felix said the company would not comment on its disclosure. The company, which has main offices in Houston, Paris and The Hague, said it classified the earnings of its Iran business after the operational wrap up.

Political tension had led to U.S. economic sanctions against Iran and other countries beginning in the past decade, pushing fellow oil field services giants Halliburton and Baker Hughes to finish up their contracts and exit the country. In November, oil field service company Weatherford International agreed to pay $252 million in penalties for violating economic sanctions in Iran and other countries.

Several of the world’s largest oil companies, like BP and Shell, pulled out of upstream projects in Iran after the U.S. passed economic sanctions in 2010. Schlumberger said it has not bid on new Iranian petroleum contracts since early 2009.

The U.S. had also set oil sanctions against Iran after fights over the country’s nuclear program came to a head in 2012. Around that time, American companies began reporting business activities in Iran through filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

And though authorities struck a six-month deal with Iran in November, it kept “sanctions on long-term investment in and provision of technical services to Iran’s energy sector” in place, according to the White House.

Wall Street investors, however, have begun to believe Iranian oil is closer to coming back to the market.

Meanwhile, rapid oil drilling in other Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia made the region Schlumberger’s most lucrative in 2013, boosting revenue 23 percent for the year.

Schlumberger shares dipped 36 cents to $88.45 in mid-day trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.