Schlumberger saw its debt rating downgraded by S&P due to the unfolding slowdown in drilling by U.S. shale companies.
The largest oilfield service company in the world has seen its earnings hit as the shale industry goes through a soft patch. S&P cut Schlumberger’s debt rating to A+, down from AA-. Meanwhile, Halliburton saw its outlook downgraded from “stable” to “negative.”
“Oilfield services companies will no longer be able to generate the high operating margins they did in 2014,” Carin Dehne-Kiley, an analyst at S&P, wrote in a report. “The oilfield services industry has fundamentally changed due to permanent efficiency and productivity gains realized by E&P companies as well as investor sentiment calling for E&P companies to live within cash flow and limit production growth.”
The sharp fall in oil prices late last year, which stretched into the first quarter of 2019, led to a rapid erosion in the U.S. rig count. The oil rig count fell by 5 to 797 for the week ending on May 24. The rebound in oil prices this year has not led to a corresponding bounce back in the rig count.
Shale companies have pulled back, making modest spending cuts amid the soft patch. Moreover, the U.S-China trade war may have killed off yet another rally, with gloom spreading across the industry. Another lengthy downturn would likely deepen the modest austerity measures implemented by shale producers,…