Schlumberger eyes job cuts beyond North America

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Schlumberger Ltd SLB.N, the world's largest oilfield services provider, plans to shed 5 percent of its North American workforce, or 1,000 jobs, and is looking at cuts elsewhere, a spokesman said on Thursday.

“We do anticipate reductions in jobs worldwide, but it’s too early to say,” said Stephen Harris, a spokesman for Schlumberger, which has 84,000 workers in about 80 countries.

Harris said the reductions had already started in North America, where the industry faces a particularly sharp downturn in drilling activity.

Schlumberger, with principal offices in Houston, Paris and The Hague, said last month its 2008 profit would be below the average Wall Street forecast. It blamed the economic slump and its effect on oil and gas exploration and production.

Despite the slowdown and a dramatic drop in energy prices since the middle of 2008, few job losses have been announced by companies in the oil and gas business.

Pritchard Capital Partners had said on Thursday it expected the market reaction to any Schlumberger job cuts to be positive since the company was “proactively addressing costs.”

After trading down for most of the day, Schlumberger shares ended 0.5 percent higher at $45.83 on the New York Stock Exchange, while the Philadelphia oil service index .OSX rose 1.9 percent. Barclays had earlier cut its target for the stock to $61 from $67, with an "overweight" rating.

The company plans to unveil fourth-quarter results on January 23.

Reporting by Braden Reddall, editing by Leslie Gevirtz