Schlumberger Takes Modest Hit on Mideast Turmoil

Schlumberger Ltd, the world's largest oilfield services company, expects turmoil in the Middle East and Africa to knock 8 to 10 cents per share off first-quarter profit, Chief Executive Andrew Gould said on Monday.

There were "significant" revenue disruptions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, Gould told the Howard

Weil Energy Conference in New Orleans. Minor disruptions were felt in Ivory Coast, Yemen, Bahrain and Oman, and in Algeria due to logistics from Tunisia.

"While activity has returned to normal in Egypt and Tunisia, we expect continued disruptions in Yemen, no short-term return of activity in Libya and uncertainty at the current time over activity in

Bahrain," the closely watched CEO said in his final keynote speech at the meeting before his retirement later this year.

Schlumberger is the sector's biggest player in Libya, and its comments appeared to calm fears about the company's potential financial damage from the region.

"To the extent that they have quantified it, that may be a relief to investors," said Roger Read, an analyst with Morgan Keegan in Houston.

In a private session with analysts following the speech, Gould reiterated his bullish view on the growing international demand for services, and in particular of Saudi Arabia's commitment to expand spare capacity regardless of any pullback in oil prices, one analyst told Reuters.

Gould also warned that the seasonal fluctuation in seismic mapping activity had been particularly pronounced, after a fourth-quarter boost of 3 cents per share on a year-end surge.

Analysts expect the company to earn a first-quarter profit of 82 cents per share, according to the average on Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, although they have likely already included some impact from the violence in Libya and political revolts elsewhere.

Baker Hughes Inc, the third-largest company in the sector, warned earlier this month that its first-quarter profit would decline 4 to 7 cents per share due to upheaval in North Africa as well as cold weather in North America.

Schlumberger's shares were 4.4 percent higher to $90.67 in noon trading on the New York

Stock Exchange, having fallen from above $95 in mid-February. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange oil service index was 1.6 percent higher.

(Reporting by Braden Reddall, additional reporting by Matt Daily in New York, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Maureen Bavdek and Tim Dobbyn)