The world’s largest oilfield services provider, Schlumberger, is selling its North American fracking business to Liberty Oilfield Services for a minority stake in a new combined company after the oil price crash crushed the U.S. shale patch’s fracking activity.

Schlumberger has agreed to combine its onshore hydraulic fracturing business in the United States and Canada—including its pressure pumping, pumpdown perforating, and Permian frac sand businesses—into Liberty, in exchange for a 37-percent equity interest in the combined company, the two firms said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

The deal—which is subject to Liberty stockholder approval, regulatory approvals, and other customary closing conditions—is expected to close in Q4 2020.

Following the announcement, shares in Liberty Oilfield Services Inc (NYSE: LBRT) surged 10 percent in pre-market trade in New York.

“The last several months have been extremely challenging for the world, the industry and the Liberty family. These times also bring opportunity. This transaction will be a transformative step forward in our journey as a company,” said Liberty’s chairman and CEO Chris Wright.

Schlumberger’s CEO Olivier Le Peuch said: 

“This partnership provides an ideal home for our OneStim business and its employees and is in line with our capital stewardship strategy while benefiting from future market upside through our equity stake.”

This year, Schlumberger booked for Q2 its second straight quarterly loss on the back of a dramatic revenue slump in U.S. shale and asset impairment charges in what “has probably been the most challenging quarter in past decades,” as Le Peuch said.

“North America revenue declined 48% sequentially with land revenue falling 60% as customers dramatically cut back spending,” the executive commented on the Q2 financials in July.

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According to Schlumberger, there are conditions for a modest increase in frac completion activity in North America in the third quarter, but if the economic recovery is slower and a second wave forces new major disruptions, they would be downside risks to its forecasts.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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