Schlumberger Earnings Call Insights: Costs and Delays and Q1 Pickup

Schlumberger NV (NYSE:SLB) recently reported its fourth quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Costs and Delays

James West – Barclays Capital: So, clearly another good move higher this quarter for international volumes, but a little margin slippage as you highlighted. It seems to me the contract delays, the startup costs, this is all pretty transitory. Is that accurate, and if so – take out the seasonal factors I guess for a second, when do those type of sort of costs and delays – when do those abate or have they already abated at this point?

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Paal Kibsgaard – CEO: Well, I agree with you. The impact we saw in profitability in Q4 is down to mix, some of these transitory delays and seasonal slowdown as you’re referring to. So, most of these issues are more or less behind us in terms of what was unusual for Q4. We will continue to see the normal seasonal slowdown in the North Sea, Russia and China land in Q1. The only other lingering issue we have is the contractual situation in North Africa, but overall the issues that were exceptional in Q4 are more or less behind us.

James West – Barclays Capital: Then, we obviously agree with your international E&P spending outlook for this year. What do you see as the biggest growth areas for Schlumberger this year, and are there any markets that you think could be particularly challenging as well, excluding North America land?