SLB delivered strong fourth quarter and full-year 2023 results on the back of high levels of offshore, international and digital activity. 

During a Jan. 19 earnings conference call, SLB CEO Olivier Le Peuch said the company saw continued growth in offshore and international markets, with customers focused on enhanced production and capacity additions. 

Fourth quarter results incorporate the first full quarter of revenues following the closing of the OneSubsea joint venture, of which SLB holds 70%, Aker Solutions holds 20% and Subsea 7 holds 10%.

Le Peuch said the company is benefiting from the offshore sector’s long-cycle developments, capacity expansions and exploration and appraisal activities.

He said access to subsea capability alongside the company’s domain expertise in reservoir understanding and well construction provides customers the chance to have integrated asset development and tieback delivery for better economics and higher recovery.

“Our objective continues to extract more value through synergy and to fully see this deepwater offshore cycle that is in full fledge happening, and where we see, as I said earlier, a strong outlook,” Le Peuch said. “So our priority is to benefit from integration capability.”

The expectation is that with more than $100 billion in final investment decisions (FIDs) expected for offshore activity in both 2024 and 2025, that market will continue to grow beyond 2025, he said.

“Both the offshore activity and the deep water where we have the benefit of the scale with our subsea venture will benefit [from FIDs],” he said. “We continue to see growth not only [in] ‘24 but running out ‘25 and beyond.”

Le Peuch also cited a resurgence in exploration and appraisal activity over the last few years as a contributor to revenues. That activity, he said, has been a combination of infrastructure-led exploration and frontier exploration. 

“When you look at it from where it's happening, what is unique in this cycle, it's happening everywhere. We have an explosion of activity, mostly offshore,” he said. “It is broad and it's here in my opinion to stay because the economics of offshore have improved significantly over the last couple of cycles.”


Le Peuch said the imperative of energy security and rising global demand underpin the longevity of the cycle.

“After a year of demand growth in 2023, we anticipate further growth in 2024 as we continue to support the ongoing entire investment cycle in international markets,” he said.

Growth is expected in the Middle East and Asia, and strong activity levels are expected in Brazil, West Africa and Australia. 

“We think across this wide base load of activity, a significant portion is taking place offshore, where capital expenditure will continue the growth momentum in 2024,” he said, noting that rig counts are rising, responding to a “strong FID pipeline in both shallow and deepwater.”

Le Peuch characterized SLB’s activity in the Middle East as very broad. 

“It's not two countries leading this, it's almost every country in the region that we see further activity,” he said.

With gas reserves at a “very good economic point,” the renewable gas market and significant investment in unconventional reserves, he expects activity and revenues from the Middle East region to grow quickly. That combination is giving the company the confidence that the 2023 investments in the Middle East will continue in 2024, 2025 and potentially into the second half of the decade, he said. 


Emerging digital trends are also opening up a major opportunity for SLB.

“We continue to witness the adoption of our digital workflows and data AI platform as customers work to enhance efficiency and returns,” Le Peuch said.

SLB now has more than 6,000 Delfi platform users and generated 125 million compute hours, he said.

“The number of users and the number of hours of compute power that we serve to our customers on the clouds have been growing by 40%,” he said.

Some of those are conversions from a legacy desktop offering to cloud, and some are by expansion of AI-based workflows to new and existing customers, he said.

“A dimension of growth is the digital operation, both drilling and production, digital operation,” he said. “These three trends are supporting our growth ambition both this year and next year, and this spans all the customer segments across the globe.”

In recent months, SLB announced technology collaborations, including a drilling automation agreement with Nabors.

The numbers

For the fourth quarter of 2023, SLB reported a net income of $1.11 billion on revenues of $8.99 billion, compared to net income of $1.07 billion on revenue of $7.88 billion in fourth-quarter 2022 and net income of $1.12 billion on revenues of $8.31 billion in third-quarter 2023. Fourth-quarter 2023 cash flow from operations was $3.02 billion, and free cash flow was $2.28 billion.

For the full year of 2023, SLB reported net income of $4.2 billion on revenues of $33.14 billion, compared to 2022’s net income of $3.44 billion on revenues of $28.09 billion. Year on year, SLB grew revenue by 18% and EBITDA by 25%.

Full-year 2023 cash flow from operations was $6.64 billion and free cash flow was $4.04 billion. With that free cash flow, SLB reduced its net debt by $1.4 billion and returned $2 billion to shareholders through dividends and stock repurchases. In the fourth quarter of 2023, SLB  repurchased 1.8 million shares of its common stock at an average price of $54.46 per share for a total purchase price of $100 million. 

On Jan. 18, SLB’s board announced it had approved a 10% increase for quarterly cash dividends from $0.250 per share of outstanding common stock to $0.275 per share, beginning with the dividend payable on April 4, 2024, to stockholders of record on Feb. 7, 2024.

“Total payout (to shareholders) is what we are focusing on. We are increasing it from $2 billion in ‘23, including buybacks, to hopefully more than $2.5 billion in 2024,” Stephane Biguet, executive vice president and CFO, said during the call. “If you back calculate this, of course with the new amount of dividend, that means a minimum of $1 billion of share buybacks. And as the year evolves, we will review that every quarter and we'll address that potentially above the $1 billion minimum.”

Capital investment for the full-year 2024 is expected at $2.6 billion, which is the same level as full-year 2023, SLB said.

For the first quarter of 2024, Le Peuch said the company expects revenue growth in the low teens and EBITDA growth in the mid-teens, indicative of the “typical pattern of activity.” He expects activity rebound in the second quarter followed by further growth acceleration in the second half of the year.

Evercore is rating SLB’s shares as ‘outperform.’ 

In a quick-take video on SLB’s earnings announcement, James West, fundamental research analyst at Evercore ISI, said SLB’s “strategy, combined with some differentiated market visioning and very strong digital capabilities, will drive further larger expansion as we go through 2024 and into ‘25.”