A Schlumberger frac crew north of Kindersley in 2008. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

There’s four major integrated oilfield service companies in the world, companies whose service lines can number near 100. And the biggest just changed its name.

Those four are Schlumberger (“Big Blue”), Haliburton (“Big Red”), Baker Hughes (“Little Blue”) and Weatherford (“Little Red”).

Hell, Halliburton even did a song in the 1970s calling themselves “Big Red.”

 

In recent years, Baker Hughes decided, despite what Kermit the Frog says, it actually is easier being green, and they rebranded. Well, on Oct. 24, Schlumberger is doing something similar. They’re dropping “Schlumberger,” and will henceforth and forevermore be known as “SLB.”

This follows in the path of BP, which used to be British Petroleum. But that became passé, so BP was reduced to letters, with the implied meaning of “Beyond Petroleum.”

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And that’s where Schlumberger’s rebranding seems to be going.

What does it mean to bring balance back to our planet? The company asks on its web page.

 

This is the text of the video now headlining their web page:

“What does it mean? To go further? To go beyond what you think is possible?

To not back down from the toughest challenges?

To look deeper and connect the dots, or to create the unimagined?

For us, it’s all of this. To go further. It’s what we do. It’s what we’ve always done. It’s in our DNA.

We need a new future of our planet. One with more energy.

But less carbon.

It’s the world’s greatest balancing act.

To get there, we must go further than ever before.

Further in innovation. Authentic new energy technologies we need. Working faster to decarbonize oil and gas and other industries. Going further to affect real change, all over the world.

And who are we? We are the ones doing it today, and going further for tomorrow.

We are SLB, driving energy innovation for a balanced planet.

Wow, just wow.

The company that’s led the world in developing hydrocarbons is now “working fast to decarbonize oil and gas and other industries.”

Shoveling frac sand north of Kindersley in 2008. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

That’s funny, coming from the same company that in 2017 announced a Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi Aramco, “in alignment with the Kingdom’s economic vision for 2030.”

Schlumberger’s presence in Saskatchewan for the last 14 years has been somewhat limited, compared to what the company is capable of. With Pipeline News, I visited a Schlumberger frac spread north of Kindersley in 2008. They’ve maintained a REDA pump shop in Estevan all this time, but that large shop often had only two people working in it – an engineer doing sales and a technician. In 2010, they bought MI Swaco.

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Around 2012, Schlumberger provided most of the services for the Aquistore project, part of the Boundary Dam Unit 3 Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage Project.

Then, just around the time oil crashed in 2014-15, Schlumberger started scooping up artificial lift businesses. This included progressing cavity pump specialist Kudu, pumpjack manufacturer Oil Boss, and Lampman-based Grimes Sales and Service, the company that provides the iconic bent walking beam HG pumpjacks.

But Schlumberger lost some interest in the artificial lift business, and sold Grimes back to the family of the original owner for substantially less than what they originally paid for it. Grimes is now independently run again.

But in other places around the world, Schlumberger is capable of providing wall-to-wall services, working for companies like BP.

Speaking of BP, Schlumberger’s not the only one supposedly reinventing itself. BP’s website says this:

Our purpose is reimagining energy for people and our planet. We want to help the world reach net zero and improve people’s lives.

We will aim to dramatically reduce carbon in our operations and in our production, and grow new low carbon businesses, products and services.

We will advocate for fundamental and rapid progress towards Paris and strive to be a leader in transparency.

We know we don’t have all the answers and will listen and work with others.

We want to be an energy company with purpose; one that is trusted by society, valued by shareholders and motivating for everyone who works at bp.

We believe we have the experience and expertise, the relationships and the reach, the skill and the will, to do this.

“Net zero.” “Decarbonize.” Changing their names to meaningless letters. Why do these terms and actions, from these utter behemoths of the oil industry, bring to mind the phrase, “Get woke, go broke?”

Hell, KnowYourMeme.com says, “Get Woke Go Broke is an expression typically used to express the sentiment that companies who embrace political correctness or cave to demands of social justice activists will suffer financially as a result.”

Sounds pretty fitting to me.

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I don’t know how you can get more politically correct than abandoning your name for the sake of, what, saving the planet? The same planet, that if it is truly being destroyed, and you believe that, you also have to believe you were one of the leading culprits?

Schlumberger frac crew in 2008. The screens have been blurred to protect proprietary data. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

If Schlumberger and BP really think that what they’ve done, since 1926 and 1908 respectively is so truly bad, they should simply shut down operations now. Make it a penance for their sins. But they won’t. They’re transforming themselves into whatever the enlightened desires of them.

And who are those enlightened? Oh wait! It turns out Blackrock Fund Advisors is the third largest owner of Schlumberger, at 5.13 per cent, according to CNN Business. BlackRock is the ultimate poster boy for ESG investment. They also own a sliver of BP.

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I think we now know just what is going on.

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink recently wrote in his “Letter to CEOs:”

Most stakeholders – from shareholders, to employees, to customers, to communities, and regulators – now expect companies to play a role in decarbonizing the global economy. Few things will impact capital allocation decisions – and thereby the long-term value of your company – more than how effectively you navigate the global energy transition in the years ahead.

And

Every company and every industry will be transformed by the transition to a net zero world. The question is, will you lead, or will you be led?

In a few short years, we have all watched innovators reimagine the auto industry. And today, every car manufacturer is racing toward an electric future. The auto industry, however, is merely on the leading edge – every sector will be transformed by new, sustainable technology.

Engineers and scientists are working around the clock on how to decarbonize cement, steel, and plastics; shipping, trucking, and aviation; agriculture, energy, and construction. I believe the decarbonizing of the global economy is going to create the greatest investment opportunity of our lifetime. It will also leave behind the companies that don’t adapt, regardless of what industry they are in.

And

Divesting from entire sectors – or simply passing carbon-intensive assets from public markets to private markets – will not get the world to net zero. And BlackRock does not pursue divestment from oil and gas companies as a policy. We do have some clients who choose to divest their assets while other clients reject that approach. Foresighted companies across a wide range of carbon intensive sectors are transforming their businesses, and their actions are a critical part of decarbonization. We believe the companies leading the transition present a vital investment opportunity for our clients and driving capital towards these phoenixes will be essential to achieving a net zero world.

So there you have it. I wonder who will be changing their name next?

 

Brian Zinchuk is editor and owner of Pipeline Online. He can be reached at brian.zinchuk@pipelineonline.ca.

 

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