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Schlumberger Limited (NYSE:SLB)

Q3 2007 Earnings Call

October 19, 2007 9:00 am ET

Executives

Malcolm Theobald - Vice President of Investor Relations

Andrew Gould - Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer

Simon Ayat - Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President, Treasurer

Analysts

Bill Herbert - Simmons & Co.

Ole Slorer - Morgan Stanley

Michael LaMotte - J.P. Morgan

Kurt Hallead - RBC Capital Markets

James Crandell - Lehman Brothers

Geoff B. Kieburtz - Citigroup

Ken Sill - Credit Suisse

Alan Laws - Merrill Lynch

Mike Urban - Deutsche Bank

Brad Handler - Wachovia Securities

Kevin Simpson - Miller Tabak

Pierre Conner - Capital One

Rob MacKenzie - FBR

Dan Pickering - Pickering Energy Partners

Michael LaMotte - JP Morgan

Presentation

Operator

Welcome to the Schlumberger earnings conference call. (Operator Instructions) I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Vice President of Investor Relations, Mr. Malcolm Theobald. Please go ahead.

Malcolm Theobald

Thank you, Julie. Welcome to today’s third quarter 2007 conference call. Before we begin today’s call, I’d like to review the logistics and agenda. Some of the information in today’s call may include forward-looking statements, as well as non-GAAP financial measures. A detailed disclaimer and other important information are included in the FAQ document, which is available on our web site or upon request.

For today’s agenda, Simon Ayat, Chief Financial Officer, will begin with commentary on the financial results; then Andrew Gould, our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, will provide an overview of the third quarter activity and outlook. Finally, we’ll take questions from the audience.

Now Simon Ayat will discuss the financials.

Simon Ayat

Thank you, Malcolm. Ladies and gentleman, good morning and thank you for participating in this conference call. Third quarter net income was $1.09 per share, up $0.07 sequentially, and $0.28 above the same quarter of last year. Oil field services generated $1.5 billion in pre-tax operating income; flat with the second quarter but declined in margin terms by 108 basis points to 29.4%.

By area, the highlights were as follows: North America pre-tax margin declined 427 basis points sequentially, to 26.9%, due to weather-related disruption in the Gulf of Mexico, the continued erosion of pressure pumping stimulation pricing on land in the U.S., and a reduction of exploration activity in the Alaska, partly compensated by a rebound in Canada after the second quarter spring break-up.

Latin America pre-tax margin increased 10 basis points sequentially to 23.7%, reflecting the improved margins in the Mexico and Central America, and Peru, Colombia, Ecuador geomarkets. The improvement in the Mexico and Central America geomarket was a result of the continued ramp up of new IPM projects that more than offset the projects start-up costs.

For ECA -- the Europe, CIS, Africa area -- the pre-tax margin improved 50 basis points sequentially to 29.2% with Russia experiencing a seasonally high offshore Sakhalin, and on land in Eastern Siberia, and a strong performance in the North Africa geomarket. This was partly offset by project delays in the Caspian and Nigeria, and Libya where margins came under pressure.

Middle East/Asia pre-tax margin increased 38 basis points sequentially, to 35.7% on improvement in China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia geomarkets, with continued exploration activity, while margins in the Middle East geomarkets remained steady. WesternGeco’s pre-tax income was $306 million, with a sequential margin improvement of 611 basis points, to 38.6%.

Marine margins improved with the introduction of the seventh Q vessel, higher utilization following the seasonal transit and dry docks in the previous quarter, and better prices. Data processing also improved as a result of increased activity associated with the marine operations. This was partly offset by slower multi-client sales, mainly in North America.

Now, turning to Schlumberger as a whole; the effective tax rate was 20.8%, 1.5 percentage points lower than last quarter, mainly due to the lower proportion of pre-tax earnings in North America for both OFS and WesternGeco.

Four quarter ETR is expected to be slightly higher than the current quarter level, and will continue to be impacted by the geographic mix of earnings. The earnings for the quarter included $32 million of expenses related to stock-based compensation, as compared to $34 million in the previous quarter. We expect this expense for the full year 2007 to be approximately $135 million, a $21 million increase over 2006.

As of September 30, net debt was $1.7 billion, significant liquidity events during the quarter included $293 million for a stock buy-back program; CapEx, including multi-client, of $790 million; and funding of the U.S. pension by an additional $150 million.

CapEx, excluding $72 million of multi-client surveys capitalized, was $718 million for the quarter and is expected to reach approximately $3 billion for the year 2007.

During the quarter, we bought back 3.1 million shares for $293 million, at an average price of $93.62. This brings the total share buyback under the 40 million share repurchase program announced in April, 2006 to 24.1 million shares for $1.6 billion at an average price of $66.93 per share.

Now I turn the conference over to Andrew.

Andrew Gould

Thank you, Simon. Good morning, everybody. Growth in the third quarter was driven by international activity across a number of geomarkets in Latin America and in Russia, as well as by activity in China/Japan/Korea, Indonesia and the Gulf in the Middle Eastern/Asia area.

In North America, activity increased in Canada, but this was offset by weaker pricing for pressure pumping on land in the U.S., and by a sharp revenue drop in the Gulf of Mexico, due to the departure of several rigs to overseas locations, and a loss of approximately 15 operating days due to weather.

Among our technology, growth was strongest at WesternGeco as the segment recovered from dry docks and vessel transits in the second quarter. Marine acquisition revenue for the quarter reached an all-time record, as pricing firmed and advanced Q technology acquisition techniques continued to be deployed. In other technologies, growth was led by robust IPM activity and by demand for wireline and drilling and measurements services, particularly in overseas markets.

Looking at the areas in more detail, within North America sequential revenue in the Canada geomarket rebounded on a higher rig count, led by demand for well services and wireline technologies, following the seasonal spring break up. However, this was more than offset by slowdowns in the U.S. Gulf Coast, as operators adopted precautionary measures during the hurricane season, with the approach of various weather systems; and by capacity-driven pricing erosion in pressure pumping stimulation services in all three U.S. land geomarkets. Lower exploration activity and seasonal maintenance in Alaska also contributed to this reduction.

In Latin America, sequential revenue growth was primarily driven by a continuing ramp-up in integrated project management activity; although the higher rig count, together with stronger demand for drilling and measurements, artificial lift systems; and Schlumberger’s Information Solutions Technologies in the Peru/Colombia/Ecuador geomarket, also contributed to growth.

In Europe, CIS and Africa, sequential growth was driven by a strong performance in Russia. This resulted from a number of positive factors that included seasonally high activity on land and offshore in East Russia; increased demand for IPM services and artificial lift products in South Russia; higher demand for drilling and measurements technologies in North Russia; as well as the impact of the consolidation of Tyumenpromgeofizika.

Elsewhere in the area, increased demand for new technology, drilling and measurement services in North Africa, higher artificial lift product sales in continental Europe, and higher wireline activity in West and Southern Africa also drove results. Overall sequential growth, however, was tempered by project slowdowns in Nigeria and in the Caspian.

Within the Middle East and Asia, sequential growth resulted from higher activity in the China/Japan/Korea, Indonesia, Australia/Papua/New Guinea, India, Brunei/Malaysia/Philippines and Gulf geomarkets. This was partially offset by lower activity in Qatar and the Thailand/Vietnam geomarket.

Advanced technology uptake continues as demand for new wireline technologies was driven by the need for more accurate formation evaluation. New wireline scanner deployments included high-pressure, high-temperature applications in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico used for thin bed and laminated sand analysis in the U.S. and West Africa, and for evaluation of additional natural gas production in Mexico. Worldwide Scanner jobs have now exceeded 1,500 with more than 300 tools active throughout the geomarket organization.

Drilling and measurement scope services also continued their worldwide expansion, with PeriScope imaging while drilling jobs in China, and TeleScope high-speed telemetry in combination with StethoScope formation pressure well drilling technology on operations in Qatar, Brunei and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

The shift towards more complex operations was highlighted during the quarter by a number of technical successes. Deeper reservoirs with consequent higher pressures and higher temperatures were logged with advanced high technology services, while new contracts were signed for deepwater projects in several regions.

IPM strengthened as the new Mexican projects ramped up. Current projects passed important milestones and geographic expansion increased in growing markets in newer regions. Among the more active projects, IPM operations increased in geomarkets in the Europe, CIS and Africa; while the contribution made by the well construction business in Latin American generally continued to grow.

Turning now to WesternGeco, marine acquisition revenues increased through higher vessel utilization, following the seasonal transits and scheduled dry dock inspections seen in the prior quarter. In addition the seventh Q vessel, the Western Spirit which was launched in Q2, was fully active. Strong demand for marine seismic also led to improved pricing for both conventional and Q marine surveys. Among the other WesternGeco products lines, data processing increased, driven primarily by higher sales in Europe, North America and Asia, while land activity remained flat and multi-client declined.

In the immediate future, while there will be some recovery from the low activity levels in the Gulf of Mexico, natural gas activity in both Canada and the U.S. is likely to stabilize as production remains relatively strong and gas storage approaches winter at comfortable levels.

As a result, pressure pumping pricing deterioration will continue. This situation, however, does not change our view that North American natural gas supply will require sustained activity to combat production decline, and advanced technology to increase production rates from poorer quality reservoirs.

Overseas, growth will continue at varying rates between regions, due to the effects of winter weather and project delays in certain countries.

Global demand for oil remains strong, while non-OPEC production continues to disappoint. Production decline rates in mature areas and continuing project delays will inhibit non-OPEC supply increases; while personnel and equipment shortages will restrict the industry’s ability to respond.

Within this context, we see continuing demand for oil field services, products and services that help our customers sustain their current production, while adding reserves through new exploration.

I will now hand the call back to Malcolm.

Malcolm Theobald

Thank you, Andrew. We will now open the call for questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Your first question comes from James Crandell – Lehman Brothers.

James Crandell – Lehman Brothers

Andrew, I would like to start with a question about your favorite business, U.S. land stimulation. How much do you think your prices, on average, are down to-date? How much further do you think they go; and what sort of annualized rate do you think that U.S. stimulation capacity is growing at currently?

Andrew Gould

I will take that question in three parts. So far I think pricing deterioration is still single-digit compared to last year. I think it will accelerate slightly in Q4. Where the bottom is I really don’t know, because what we have is a situation very different from 2001, in that the bottom is going to be created by additional capacity and not by a drop in the rig count. Because I used the word stabilized quite consciously, in that we think at the current level of storage, with the current production profile, rig count is likely to remain flat or go up or down a little bit, but basically not change very much.

So what is going to change the pricing profile is the additional capacity. I’m not quite sure where we stand in the additional horsepower that was coming on. But, you know, when we looked at it a few months ago, it was certainly an increment in the high teens, if not more.

James Crandell – Lehman Brothers

Could you elaborate on your statement of project delays in certain countries? You mentioned Nigeria and Caspian in your comments. Are there any more areas, and what is the magnitude and timing of these delays as you see it now?

Andrew Gould

I think that in the case of Caspian, it’s unknown. I think in the case of other countries, it’s really just a question of logistical difficulties becoming more and more complex and therefore perhaps the rate of growth that people have been expecting from certain countries, while the growth will be there, it’s not going to be quite as fast as they imagine.

James Crandell – Lehman Brothers

In particular the two areas that I mentioned, Nigeria and Caspian, or would other areas fall into that as well?

Andrew Gould

I think there are other areas as well but those are the two that well, in the case of Nigeria, logistical difficulties make it difficult to see the rate of growth accelerating at this point in time.

Operator

Your next question comes from Michael LaMotte – JP Morgan.

Michael LaMotte – JP Morgan

I’d like to follow up on the comment that Libya came under pressure. Can you talk about what specifically happened in the quarter and then maybe provide some outlook on North Africa in general?

Andrew Gould

I think that Libya is suffering from what the previous Fed Chairman called irrational exuberance. In other words, I think, for example, if you take the number of wireline trucks in Libya, it has probably been multiplied by four in the last year.

For the logistical difficulties that I was just mentioning with Jim, the rig count is not followed, so you have huge overcapacity limited to that country at the moment; but which means that everyone’s margins are under pressure.

Michael LaMotte – JP Morgan

How does that all shake out as we go into ’08?

Andrew Gould

I think it depends on the rate at which the Libyan activity increases; but Libya is a country where logistics are difficult, so I don’t think the rig count is going to increase as fast as perhaps people have projected. I think it’ll take longer in ’08 to sort it out.

Michael LaMotte – JP Morgan

Andrew, as you look into ’08, what would you say are the greatest challenges that Schlumberger and the industry face? You’ve mentioned logistics a few times now.

Andrew Gould

I think the constraints on logistics -- and it’s really an end of ’08 problem -- but the idea that the industry is going to ramp up 146 offshore rigs in a period of 18 months without a considerable loss in drilling efficiency is quite difficult for me to imagine. So, I actually think ’08 is a year when we will continue to have very strong growth in traditional land markets but offshore growth is going to be limited by the number of new rigs coming on to the market in the first three quarters. But logistical and crane difficulties, for all sorts of things, are getting more difficult, in my opinion at the moment, rather than less difficult.

Operator

Your next question comes from Bill Herbert – Simmons.

Bill Herbert – Simmons

Multi-client sales off, down quarter on quarter and I think down year over year as well. What’s going on in multi-client in the Gulf of Mexico? Do we think we’re amply supplied for the time being, or is this just a temporary period of stagnation?

Andrew Gould

No, I think we feel, Bill, that a lot of operators didn’t want to make decisions before the October lease sale. We don’t think this is a permanent phenomenon. We don’t think that the market is oversupplied with the sort of multi-client we’re providing. Basically, we took it as just being a pause.

Bill Herbert – Simmons

Secondly, with respect to the contraction in North American margins, about 430 bips, what percentage of that was driven by the Gulf of Mexico?

Andrew Gould

A very high percentage.

Bill Herbert – Simmons

A very high percentage.

Andrew Gould

Because you understand that these stand downs, you can’t reduce cost in any way because they’re for two or three days each time.

Bill Herbert – Simmons

I understand that. That’s mostly, I would imagine, a transitory affair and you should recover some -- if not most of that -- into the fourth quarter?

Andrew Gould

In the Gulf, yes.

Operator

Your next question comes from Kurt Hallead – RBC Capital Markets.

Kurt Hallead – RBC Capital Markets

The question I have for you is your comment here about personnel and equipment shortages impacting the industry’s ability to respond. I’m assuming you’re talking about the oil industry’s ability to respond to grow production. I’m curious about the equipment shortages. Is that a situation where the service industry may be short on equipment and therefore may have the ability to really start to push pricing up at this time?

Andrew Gould

I don’t think you should take my comment as relating purely to what Schlumberger does. I think you should take it as relating to the whole chain; in other words, the capacity to build platforms, surface equipment, flow lines, everything else that you need to complete a project. Actually, as I just mentioned to the previous question, the story of when we get more offshore rigs.

So, I don’t think you should take that comment as being limited purely to what Schlumberger does; it’s across the whole spectrum of what the industry needs to do a development project.

Kurt Hallead – RBC Capital Markets

In the context of that question, is this kind of like a funnel effect where you get a lot of projects and oil companies trying to get a lot of things done, and they’re limited by that equipment? Does that give the oil service industry in aggregate the ability to get better pricing?

Andrew Gould

Overall, across time, yes. I think that the oil companies will be cautious not to allow excessive inflation to be built in by all bidding for the same resources at the same time. So, if you like, it supports what I’ve told you before, that we think the growth period will go on for longer; but it may get spread out.

Kurt Hallead – RBC Capital Markets

You referenced a couple of issues that we should be cognizant of in terms of project delays and some of these rig issues and so on. Does this alter your growth rate viewpoint, where you had a high teens revenue better than that earnings growth rate through the end of the decade?

Andrew Gould

If you exclude North America, no. Actually, what I wanted to get across as well is that Russia is now so large for us that the seasonal effect of winter weather in Russia will have an effect on Q4; particularly as Q3 is the highest quarter because that’s when Sakhalin is really in full swing. I wanted to just get across that we have another weather effect that perhaps people haven’t looked at before.

Kurt Hallead – RBC Capital Markets

But you especially continue to be confident in the international growth rates being at or above that high teens rate in North America, is really the question?

Andrew Gould

North America is the question.

Operator

Your next question comes from Ole Slorer – Morgan Stanley.

Ole Slorer– Morgan Stanley

You mentioned that pressure pumping deterioration and the margins in North America were down quite a bit sequentially in the quarter. Could you give us some idea of where contract pricing for the industry now, for more commoditized- type services are, relative to the sort of pricing that was realized in the third quarter?

Andrew Gould

If I can just, perhaps point out, Ole, as I said in reply to the previous question, that the biggest effect on margins in the Q3 in North America was the lack of operating days in the Gulf of Mexico due to precautionary evacuations, not from land. There was a deterioration on land but it was not the major part of it. In terms of the pricing of services, other than pressure pumping, we have not so far seen a noticeable effect.

Ole Slorer– Morgan Stanley

But my question was, where is pricing right now in pressure pumping relative to the pricing that was realized in the third quarter?

Andrew Gould

Well, we’re only 17 days into the fourth quarter and I don’t know, is the answer to that.

Ole Slorer– Morgan Stanley

I’m not asking for the fourth quarter, but where they stand now.

Andrew Gould

I said in answer to a previous question that we felt that it would continue to deteriorate and perhaps be at a slightly higher rate in the fourth quarter than the third.

Ole Slorer– Morgan Stanley

You mentioned production declines in the metro areas. Could you be a little bit more specific in terms of at what level you think non-OPEC production declines, how you highlighted this a year ago and there was a very bearish oil market sentiment that you said that non-OPEC was way too optimistic and all that. You reiterated it now, it has sort of played out.  Can you help us a little bit with how to think about what decline curves are? We are hearing anything from 8% to 15%?

Andrew Gould

I’ve never given a public answer to this question, and I’m not going to. I use a figure that was used by one of our major customers a few years ago, which was 8%. Now whether that’s accelerating or not overall I think is an open question. What I do think is that a lot of the forecasting agencies are still using decline rates that are inferior to that, which is what leads to the confusion.

Ole Slorer– Morgan Stanley

One final question. Seismic capacity is there lots under construction there, particularly out of the Norwegian companies? When do you think that a standardized 3-D seismic contract pricing will peak? Are we one or two or three or four years away from that?

Andrew Gould

Well it is certainly not in 2008, and after that I really don’t know, Ole. It depends. Every one of these boats so far has been three to six months late and as you know, we have azimuthal shooting growing at the same time which uses more boats, and exploration spend. It’s certainly not in 2008; but at what point beyond that, I don’t know at this stage.

Ole Slorer– Morgan Stanley

Electromagnetic; are you commercial now? Can you give us one final bit of update on that a little bit for me?

Andrew Gould

Well, we are certainly commercial on magnetotellurics and yes, we are commercial on CSEM as well.

Operator

Your next question comes from Geoff Kieburtz - Citigroup.

Geoff Kieburtz – Citigroup

WesternGeco margins were very robust. Are they sustainable?

Andrew Gould

Well, if you exclude the seasonal effects of vessel transits in marine, they are sustainable and in multi-client, yes, I think they’re sustainable. So the answer overall is yes. There may be quarterly fluctuations, Geoff; but overall, yes.

Geoff Kieburtz – Citigroup

So if we look at what might be an ’07 average margin for WesternGeco, you think that that’s sustainable on a couple years out at least until maybe the effect of the --

Andrew Gould

I think so.

Geoff Kieburtz – Citigroup

Just to clarify, your prior comment on the multi-year growth in the high teens, you’ve modified that to exclude North America now?

Andrew Gould

Well, I said through the end of the decade. What I’m saying is that we won’t get a high teen growth rate in North America in 2008. Everywhere else, we probably will not be that far from it; but in North America we’re not going to get it. Now what happens through the end of the decade, I can’t speculate yet on North America specifically. The rest of the world, I’m perfectly confident.

Geoff Kieburtz – Citigroup

If I’m not mistaken, your previous comment about high teens growth through the end of the decade --

Andrew Gould

Did cover everything, yes.

Geoff Kieburtz – Citigroup

Did cover everything. Are you kind of backing away from that a little bit now?

Andrew Gould

I’m saying I have an uncertainty on North America, but not from the rest.

Geoff Kieburtz – Citigroup

On North America, we saw basically a pretty big decline; I understand the Gulf of Mexico impact. Overall, do you think that the North American EBIT contribution in ’08 is going to be above, below or in line with the ’07 contribution?

Andrew Gould

Well, I don’t think I’m ready to answer that yet Geoff. Obviously, if there is a big pricing impact on land, then it will have an effect.

Geoff Kieburtz – Citigroup

So a decline is a possibility?

Andrew Gould

It’s not excluded, no.

Operator

Your next question comes from Ken Sill – Credit Suisse.

Ken Sill – Credit Suisse

I wanted to follow up on that last one and make sure I’m hearing what you’re saying, which is; you said in your early comments that you see North America is going to need more activity over time to maintain production?

Andrew Gould

Yes.

Ken Sill – Credit Suisse

But you don’t know what’s going to happen in ’08?

Andrew Gould

No. I have indicated that our feeling is that in ’08 on land, given the current position of gas, a stable or slightly fluctuating up or down rig count is probably our most likely scenario. In those circumstances, the additional capacity in pressure pumping will undoubtedly having a pricing effect, mitigated somewhat by the need for more technology to produce better from poorer quality reservoirs.

Ken Sill – Credit Suisse

But long term, you still see growth in revenues in North America?

Andrew Gould

On land?

Ken Sill – Credit Suisse

Or just North America, yes.

Andrew Gould

Yes.

Ken Sill – Credit Suisse

To follow up on a previous question, somebody had asked how much do you think pressure pumping demand is growing ex the rig count in North America?

Andrew Gould

That’s a difficult question to answer because there are two types of pressure pumping. There is the basic, which is probably not growing any more and then there is the staged stimulation of horizontal wells that is probably still growing quite fast. So the indicator should be the number of horizontal wells that are being drilled for gas, as opposed to straight vertical wells, or horizontal wells with staged completions.

Ken Sill – Credit Suisse

Is that something the commodity guys can do or not?

Andrew Gould

Not necessarily, no.

Ken Sill – Credit Suisse

On the Gulf of Mexico, how much of a decline is related to what appears to be a long-term decline in shallow water activity and rigs moving versus deepwater? How much do you expect to see rebounding here in Q4?

Andrew Gould

Well, I don’t think that the shelf has a huge effect either way for us. We should at least recover the operating days we lost, which was 15 roughly, in the deepwater.

Ken Sill – Credit Suisse

So that was really just a deepwater issue from the rig advance?

Andrew Gould

For us, yes.

Ken Sill – Credit Suisse

One final question. Your long-term contracts have generally been two to three years, so is there another year of margin improvement related to old contracts rolling to higher prices coming in ’08? Or will it be more --

Andrew Gould

I would remind you it’s only one-third of the contracts that will roll, so I’m not prepared to speculate on that at this point in time. We’re not far along enough in our planning cycle for me to see. But generally, I don’t see any reason that there would be any material deterioration in overseas margins.

Operator

Your next question comes from Alan Laws – Merrill Lynch.

Alan Laws - Merrill Lynch

When you look at the growth in Latin America and the rig reduction in the Gulf of Mexico in the US, is the Latin America market heading toward becoming a more important region overall globally for you? You’re the biggest in that area.

Andrew Gould

Well, we are the biggest but I certainly think that there is an awful lot of growth potential left in Latin America, yes.

Alan Laws - Merrill Lynch

When you talk about the improvements there, is it mostly on straight demand or is it mix of services? Are they sort of joining the technology revolution, if you will?

Andrew Gould

Well, like everybody else, what they have to do is getting more complex; so yes, they are more and more interested in technology.

Alan Laws - Merrill Lynch

From the technology adoption standpoint, the vehicle to do that, is that mostly through IPM for you?

Andrew Gould

No, I would say Latin America is equally some very sophisticated customers, and IPM.

Alan Laws - Merrill Lynch

If you looked out further, can you see this region moving towards the same margin as the other international regions over time?

Andrew Gould

Well, it will always have the effect of the huge body of IPM contracts and the third-party passthrough revenue that we have to recognize; which is at lower margin than our own services.

Alan Laws - Merrill Lynch

The last thing is more of a longer-term growth question here. You remain pretty comfortable with the longer-term growth outlook. When you look out beyond ‘08, how much of the growth in the business going to be dependent on the delivery of the new rigs?

Andrew Gould

Well obviously the size of the increase in the offshore rig count is a very important factor in our growth beyond ’08, particularly as it migrates to deeper water and more and more complex reservoirs.

Alan Laws - Merrill Lynch

When you look at your growth rate out that far, and if there was an opportunity for these to slide to the right, so to speak, does that affect your growth outlook or does it make you feel less comfortable with your growth outlook?

Andrew Gould

No, because we have always considered that there would be an element of slippage in the delivery of offshore rigs and therefore we've taken that into account in our thinking. I am sometimes worried that The Street hasn't.

Alan Laws - Merrill Lynch

It's this thing you were talking about earlier about taking longer, but the demand is still there, it just takes longer to materialize.

Operator

Your next question comes from Mike Urban – Deutsche Bank.

Mike Urban - Deutsche Bank

How much impact have you seen from stimulation equipment moving out of North America and into the Russian market?

Andrew Gould

The real impact of that was when Canada went down, and the Canadian companies moved fairly aggressively into Russia. I would say that was half one phenomenon of this year and since then, things have pretty much stabilized. I was in Russia last weekend. We still see frac fleets arriving in ones or twos but they're nothing that the market can't cope with. There's not the influx that there was in the first half of this year.

Mike Urban - Deutsche Bank

Demand is again outstripping the supply?

Andrew Gould

I would say it is pretty balanced at the moment.

Mike Urban - Deutsche Bank

The Canadian market obviously recovered a bit seasonally. Would you expect much more than what we've seen right now, again given the gas fundamentals in North America and also the potential impact of tax and royalty changes in Alberta?

Andrew Gould

I think it's a very difficult call to make, and I don't think until we start to see a significant production decline we're likely to see a significant change in spending levels. I would imagine that this Q1 will be better than the last Q1, but it's not going to be like 2006.

Mike Urban - Deutsche Bank

So you may go positive on a year-over-year basis, simply because it's not getting any worse rather than getting better?

Andrew Gould

Yes. It's getting better. I really don't know what the effect of this royalty thing is going to be.

Operator

Your next question comes from Brad Handler - Wachovia.

Brad Handler - Wachovia Securities

Could you please just update us in terms of IPM orders and backlog? You gave us some statistics last quarter; I was just hoping you could give it for 3Q.

Andrew Gould

It hasn't substantially changed since the end of the last quarter in terms of a solid backlog. In terms of enquiries and ongoing negotiations I would say it has increased and it's shifted considerably away from Latin America. It's far more in Europe, CIS and Africa at the moment than in Latin America. But there's not a significant shift in the overall backlog this quarter.

Brad Handler - Wachovia Securities

I guess it was at $4.8 billion as of 2Q and it's more or less there, you're saying? There was some offset relative to the revenue.

Andrew Gould

Yes.

Brad Handler - Wachovia Securities

Could share your thoughts on the Mexican market? We've heard a lot about some very large tenders which are potentially up and coming in '07, and yet there are still budget constraints that you think drift into '08. Your thoughts on that please?

Andrew Gould

Well, I think there are still a considerable number of large tenders that will come out in 2007. I haven't personally heard of any budget constraints, but I can't claim to be up to date to the minute. There certainly are one or two or three very large tenders that are still likely to happen.

Brad Handler - Wachovia Securities

In '07, you think?

Andrew Gould

In '07, yes.

Brad Handler - Wachovia Securities

Can you share your comments related to that in terms of interest? Obviously Chicontepec is a key area but are there some others on land which are also a focus for you?

Andrew Gould

I really don't want to go into that. But yes, we are still interested in expanding in Mexico.

Operator

We'll go to the line of Kevin Simpson – Miller Tabak.

Kevin Simpson - Miller Tabak

Andrew, two questions, maybe more quarterly oriented than you might want to get. The first would be that normally your Europe/Africa region sequentially goes higher in the fourth quarter, but your suggestion that Russia is big enough now that the seasonal influence made you mention fourth quarter specifically. I am just wondering if we should expect 4Q comps for that region not to go up as they normally have done in 4Q?

Andrew Gould

Well as you know, that region really has two markets that are highly dependent on seasonality. One is the East and Central Russia where there will undoubtedly be a winter effect because people just shut down. The other is the North Sea, which is extremely weather dependent, and the North Sea I really can't call, because I think people will go on drilling if the weather allows them too.

So overall, I think that the weight of Russia -- and the North Sea by the way -- in the total of Europe/Africa is likely to perhaps moderate the effect you are talking about in the past, Kevin. It increased in Q4 over Q3.

Kevin Simpson - Miller Tabak

I just wanted to go into one quick follow up on multi-client. I would have thought with the strength of the lease sale that you would've seen stronger multi-client sales for third quarter as people got prepared for it. So I was just wondering how that all played out and it sounds like you sound pretty comfortable that you're going to get actually a fourth quarter rebound there.

Malcolm Theobald

Yes, well don't forget that the lease sales concern different parts of the Gulf, and we think that the upcoming lease sale in October is probably more prospective for a lot of multi-client than the one that was in Q3. So, yes, we're pretty confident.

Operator

Your next question comes from Pierre Conner – Capital One.

Pierre Conner - Capital One

My question is a direct follow on to that on the multi-client side. I wondered what your perspective of future multi-client sales would be, given the context of available multi-client wide-azimuth and E-Octopus data. Do you feel there could be a move toward some of this other data that would impact current library sales?

Andrew Gould

What other data are you talking about, Pierre? I'm not quite sure what you mean. Do you mean are the E-Octopus sales in decline?

Pierre Conner - Capital One

No, from the standpoint of available multi-client wide-azimuth data, will customers tend to move to that or wait for wide-azimuth data and therefore not be accessing the current library of non-wide-azimuth data?

Andrew Gould

I'm not sure there are enough wide-azimuth multi-client out there to really affect libraries yet. It may come, but not yet.

Pierre Conner - Capital One

That's fair. Related to E-Octopus, can you remind us of how much impact is there in the current quarter in WesternGeco from the earlier phases, 1 through 3? The fourth and fifth phases don't get kicked off until first quarter.

Andrew Gould

No. I'm very comfortable in saying I don't know, Pierre, I'm afraid.

Pierre Conner - Capital One

Switching gears on a follow up then back to pressure pumping. You mentioned about a single-digit still decline in pricing and I'm wondering if you could dissect that a little more, Andrew, relative to more sophisticated technology and more commodity types.

Andrew Gould

Not really. I think it's in more uncertain geographical regions than others, which is a reflection of how you see the U.S. land rig count move in different areas. I don't think that where pressure pumping is being used in conjunction with staged completions that we've seen any pricing decline at all. But that's still a fairly small portion of the overall market.

Pierre Conner - Capital One

In the past you have given us a specific impact due to delays from storm standbys and wondered if you've done that calculation on an EPS basis? I know you told us the majority of the North American margin compression was due to that, but have you run through that specifically?

Andrew Gould

No, it's 15 days so you can assume it's more than $0.01.

Pierre Conner - Capital One

I'm assuming also as per what you described in the supplemental is that most of the tax delta -- essentially all of the tax delta -- was due to geographic mix change?

Simon Ayat

Yes.

Operator

Your next question comes from Rob MacKenzie – FBR.

Rob MacKenzie - FBR

Andrew, my question is for you. You mentioned the first two StageFRAC jobs outside of the U.S. in this market; one in the Mexico/Central America market and one in Saudi Arabia. Can you give us a feel for how much potential there is for expansion of StageFRAC in these and other markets and what the timing might be on that?

Andrew Gould

There's huge potential. We've done jobs in West Africa as well. It's really a question of the normal cycle of time it takes to spread a technology overseas which, as you know, is quite long. But there is a huge potential overseas.

Rob MacKenzie - FBR

Separately, also in the FRAC, you did a job with Flex Stem in the North Sea. Is this something that you are seeking to potentially replace FRAC vessels with to reduce cost structure, or is this more of a niche product? If you could help us get a feel of how many more you might be building, the ultimate size, same thing with the question on timing as well?

Andrew Gould

Well, I know we are looking to applying that idea in other theatres. I would say it's more a solution to deal with the marginal demand. In other words, where you cannot afford a whole vessel or the market cannot support the whole vessel, and where the marine operating conditions allow you to use that sort of package you can deal with the marginal demand much easier than a full-fledged steam vessel.

Rob MacKenzie - FBR

How would you characterize the opportunities for that around the world?

Andrew Gould

I would rather not in public, if you don't mind.

Operator

Your next question comes from Dan Pickering – Pickering Energy Partners.

Dan Pickering - Pickering Energy Partners

Andrew, I'd like to come back to the international markets for a second. You talked about Libya where capacity additions have changed the market dynamic a little bit.

Andrew Gould

No, not a little bit, Dan; completely.

Dan Pickering - Pickering Energy Partners

Okay, completely. I'm trying to extrapolate across the international markets. Do you see general overcapacity in any of your product lines?

Andrew Gould

No. This is a very particular case where the opening of Libya led everyone to believe there would be, I think, an immediate bonanza, so people shipped in equipment at a rate far faster than the increase in rig count was taking place.

Dan Pickering - Pickering Energy Partners

So just to be clear, we shouldn't be thinking there are too many LWD tools in the market, or too many wirelines in the market?

Andrew Gould

No, no. And in fact, I would exclude LWD from this argument even on Libya.

Dan Pickering - Pickering Energy Partners

Then back to North America a little bit. You've talked a lot about pumping. I was confused by one of your answers. It sounded like you said the pricing impact in pumping had not yet had a margin impact. Was that correct?

Andrew Gould

What I said was that in the drop in our margins in Q3 in North America, the effect of the hurricane stoppages or the precautionary stoppages in the Gulf was by far the largest part of our margin decline.

Dan Pickering - Pickering Energy Partners

As it relates to the pumping business, can you talk to us and strategically help us understand, are you a market share defender in North America? Are you taking capacity out? How do you fight your way through a market with too much capacity?

Andrew Gould

I think you should assume that everybody is a market share defender at the moment.

Operator

Your next question comes from Michael LaMotte – JP Morgan.

Michael LaMotte - JP Morgan

First on the buy back, Andrew, I have to say given the swoon that the stocks had in August I was a little surprised that you didn't buy back more. Is there any thought or comment there?

Andrew Gould

No. At these levels, they are on a very regular program, Michael.

Michael LaMotte - JP Morgan

So more programmatic than opportunistic?

Andrew Gould

Yes. Maybe we missed a tactical opportunity, but we didn't see the run up.

Michael LaMotte - JP Morgan

Secondly on currency, currency issues have come up in the past and we've talked about the business being dollar neutral and revenues and costs being very much dollar linked. The question I have is more to cost of living adjustments for ex-pats that are being paid in dollars. Is there any risk we could see some real inflation in wages next year for those kinds of adjustments?

Andrew Gould

I think you have to take into account there are two types of ex-pats. So there are ex-pats who rotate. An example would be WesternGeco crews or testing crews who actually live in a country where they pay their bills in euros or pounds or whatever it happens to be, and we have always based our salaries in dollars. For those people, over the last two years, we have already been making cost-of-living adjustments to take account of the devaluation of the dollar.

Then you have our permanently assigned expatriate personnel who live in the countries where they work and who are paid in dollars and remunerated on a base salary and on a cost-of-living coefficient -- all in dollars -- and that population, if there continues to be a serious decline in the dollar, we will have to address it, yes. Yes, that will cause a little cost inflation.

Michael LaMotte - JP Morgan

Can you give a sense in terms of the mix of employee base?

Andrew Gould

Not off the top of my head, Michael, no, but the vast majority are in dollar terms.

Operator

Your next question comes from Geoff Kieburtz - Citigroup.

Geoff Kieburtz - Citigroup

You mentioned, Andrew, that you had always factored in some delays in terms of rig deliveries in your rig outlook. Can you give us some idea of average delay versus the stated delivery dates that you've been using?

Andrew Gould

Actually that's not the one I worry about. I think the operating efficiency of a rig in its first year with a new crew, new out of the shipyard, is vastly inferior to an existing offshore rig that has a well-honed crew and has been drilling wells for years. So it's not so much the delay from the shipyard as the actual drilling efficiency in the first year or two of operations.

Geoff Kieburtz - Citigroup

Would you be using like a 50% factor or like an 80% factor?

Andrew Gould

I don't think we're that scientific about it, but it would be a pretty substantial factor, Geoff, yes.

Geoff Kieburtz - Citigroup

The second one was in your comments about Europe/CIS/Africa and the greater size of the weather and seasonal dependent markets. All other things being equal, will the potential declines in the fourth quarter cause margins to vary significantly? I mean, there's a mix effect kind of implied in your comment.

Andrew Gould

Significantly, no. Very, yes. But not the sort of thing you've seen with the Gulf of Mexico stoppages if that is what you are thinking, Geoff.

Geoff Kieburtz - Citigroup

So it would be negative but not very large.

Andrew Gould

No. If you take Sakhalin as it's a seasonal shutdown, we can adjust cost accordingly.

Geoff Kieburtz - Citigroup

So you can anticipate, right?

Andrew Gould

It's when you get a stoppage where a stoppage is unforeseen or brief that you cannot adjust cost that you get the accelerated market effect.

Geoff Kieburtz - Citigroup

I guess what I was asking perhaps was whether those more seasonal of markets typically carry higher margins than the average for the region or lower markets?

Andrew Gould

That would probably be a fair statement.

Operator

Your final question comes from Jim Crandell – Lehman Brothers.

Jim Crandell - Lehman Brothers

Andrew, our data is showing that non-North American CapEx on E&P this year will be up close to 25% in '07. Assuming that you believe it, do you believe that '08 growth over '07 can be as strong as '07 versus '06?

Andrew Gould

The announced CapEx numbers?

Geoff Kieburtz - Citigroup

I am just saying that based on our survey and then adjustments to our survey since it's come out is showing growth of close to 25% in '07. I'm asking you whether you believe that or not, I guess, do you think that '08 versus '07 will match that, exceed it, fall short of that, in terms of a global growth rate outside of North America?

Andrew Gould

I actually suspect that it will at least match. Now what is the inflation content in that 25% in '07, I don't know how you measure that. What it will be in '08, I don't know either, but I would not be at all surprised if the raw numbers match or exceed.

Geoff Kieburtz - Citigroup

What do you see as the regions that could grow faster than 25%?

Andrew Gould

I think Latin America and parts of the Far East and Russia.

Geoff Kieburtz - Citigroup

You have your three major competitors internationally all in various stages of building up their IPM or bundled services capability. They've all ramped up CapEx. They've all ramped up infrastructure spending. They have a lot of new tools and services entering into the market.

In markets that you've dominated technically or because you just have very strong shares historically, what kind of issues does this create for Schlumberger? Do you still believe that technically speaking you're as far ahead of the competition as you've ever been and doesn't really create any significant challenges?

Andrew Gould

Obviously having more capacity on the ground creates more challenges. Just because people have put equipment there doesn't mean that they can operate efficiently. There is obviously more threat than there used to be. Do we feel massively under threat? Not at all.

Operator

We'll turn it back to Mr. Theobald. Please go ahead.

Malcolm Theobald

On behalf of the Schlumberger management team I would like to thank you for participating in today's call. Julie will now provide the closing comments.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, this conference will be available for replay after 2:15 pm today through midnight, November 18, 2007. You may access the AT&T teleconference replay system at anytime by dialing 1.800.475.6701 and entering the access code 886387. International participants dial 320.365.3844. That does conclude our conference for today.

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Source: Schlumberger Q3 2007 Earnings Call Transcript
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