April 2, 2018 / 11:00 PM / 8 months ago

Baker Hughes explores sale of gas metering business: sources

FILE PHOTO: Idle oil equipment is seen in a Baker Hughes yard in Williston, North Dakota April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen/File Photo

(Reuters) - Baker Hughes (BHGE.N), the oilfield services company controlled by General Electric Co (GE.N), is exploring a sale of its gas detection and metering business that could be worth around $900 million, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Oilfield services firms are seeking to tighten their focus to their core operations, as oil prices continue their recovery from their January 2016 lows.

Baker Hughes’ unit for sale, which makes sensors and monitors for industrial clients such as petrochemical makers and power generators, is expected to attract interest from other manufacturers of such devices, according to one of the sources.

The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. Baker Hughes declined to comment.

Oilfield service firms are still rebounding from the 2014-2016 crude price crash, which prompted mass layoffs and cost cutting across the sector. Although oil prices have now climbed to above $60 a barrel, many firms remain under pressure as exploration and production companies continue to slash service costs.

In December, Baker Hughes rival Weatherford International Plc (WFT.N) sold its stake in a North American pressure pumping and well operations joint venture to partner Schlumberger (SLB.N) for $430 million in a bid to raise cash and pay down debt.

General Electric merged its oilfield services business with Baker Hughes last July, giving it a controlling stake in the combined company and creating the world’s second largest oilfield service provider by revenue. Baker Hughes Chief Executive Lorenzo Simonelli said last week the new company was on track to achieve some $700 million in savings this year on account of the deal.

Reporting by David French and Harry Brumpton in New York; Additional Reporting by Liz Hampton in Houston; Editing by Peter Cooney

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