We begin today a collection of insights on the current market situation from CEOs of various companies--energy and otherwise--to shed some light on where we may be headed next. First up: Words of wisdom and caution from Andrew Gould, CEO and chairman of Schlumberger, when reporting the global service company's positive third-quarter results (revenues and income higher than 3Q 07 and 2Q 08): "As we enter the fourth quarter, the recent rapid deterioration in credit markets will undoubtedly have an effect on our activity though we anticipate this will largely be limited to North America and in some emerging exploration markets overseas. The strengthening production of North American natural gas has also led a number of customers to reduce spending early. "At the present time, the rate at which the world economy will slow has become increasingly uncertain. We have always maintained that the one event that could slow the rate of increase in worldwide exploration and production spending would be a reduction in the demand for oil caused by a severe global recession. At the moment, it is still too soon to predict to what extent current events will affect overall activity in 2009, but we anticipate a slowing in the rate of increase of customer spending. "However, the weakness of the current supply base, the age of the production profile and the decrease in reserve replacement all of which we have indicated on many occasions are such that any significant drop in exploration and production investment would rapidly provoke an even stronger recovery. " --