[Editor's note: A version of this story appears in the March 2021 issue of Oil and Gas Investor magazine.]

The first meeting between three top executives of global oilfield services (OFS) giant Schlumberger Ltd. and three top executives of leading U.S. pressure pumper Liberty Oilfield Services Inc. occurred in a restaurant in New York City in late 2019—and certainly before COVID-19 closed down the Big Apple in March 2020. Schlumberger initiated the invitation. On the menu: Big Blue’s OneStim hydraulic fracturing division.

It was no secret that the French OFS provider was looking to sell so-called noncore businesses, particularly those in U.S. shale, which was undergoing a swoon in activity as E&Ps were pulling back on activity due to Wall Street capital flight. But it was barely two years after it had paid $430 million to Weatherford International for its frac fleet.

One company’s noncore is another’s transformation.

That first gathering was informal and casual but crucial nonetheless, according to Liberty chairman and CEO Chris Wright who spoke with Oil and Gas Investor in the midst of a road tour in which he was visiting OneStim field offices.

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