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Baker Hughes says energy downturn to bottom out this year


(Reuters) – Oilfield equipment and services provider Baker Hughes Co on Thursday joined larger rival Halliburton Co in saying the energy industry’s worst downturn in decades would turn a corner this year.

Oil and gas producers have been forced to cut budgets, restructure operations and reduce employees, to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic-led fallout in energy demand and prices.

“We expect spending and activity levels to gain momentum through the year as the macro environment improves, likely setting up the industry for stronger growth in 2022,” Baker Hughes Chief Executive Officer Lorenzo Simonelli said.

Halliburton on Tuesday predicted a recovery in the global oil and gas industry from the second quarter of this year.

Demand for oilfield equipment and services recovered in the last three months of 2020, with producers completing more wells and drilling some, as crude prices averaged around $45 a barrel in the quarter. Global crude prices hovered around $56 per barrel on Thursday.

Baker Hughes’ adjusted operating profit nearly doubled to $462 million in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with the third.

The company has cut its budget, restructured operations, reduced the number of employees, closed facilities and accelerated the exit of non-core products to save cash and cushion the blow from the fallout in demand due to the pandemic.

Total revenue for the reported quarter rose nearly 9% to $5.5 billion, compared with the third, and also beat estimates of $5.42 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

The total revenue was down 13.4% and adjusted operating profit 15.4% lower from a year earlier, as drilling activity was well below last year’s levels.

Halliburton also posted a better-than-expected profit on Tuesday, while top oilfield service provider Schlumberger NV is expected to report results on Friday.

Baker Hughes’s shares were up 3.7% at $23.75 in premarket trading.



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