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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Schlumberger, BP, Halliburton, Chevron and Petrobras

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – April 06, 2016 – announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB), BP plc (BP), Halliburton Co. (HAL), Chevron Corp. (CVX) and Petrobras (PBR).

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Here are highlights from Tuesday’s Analyst Blog:

Oil & Gas Stock Roundup: SLB Buys CAM, BP to Pay $20B

It was a week in which oil futures ended lower but natural gas jumped to levels not seen since mid-Feb.

On the news front, Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB) closed its previously announced $15 billion takeover of Cameron International Corp., while a federal judge approved a $20 billion settlement for BP plc (BP) for the deadly oil spill of 2010.

Overall, it was a mixed week for the sector. While West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures dived 6.8% to close at $36.79 per barrel, natural gas prices gained 3.9% to $1.956 per million Btu (MMBtu). (See the last ‘Oil & Gas Stock Roundup’ here: China Clears Schlumberger-Cameron Merger .)

Oil experienced another weekly loss after Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the kingdom might agree to a production freeze only "if all countries” including Iran agree to limit production to Jan 2016 levels.

Natural gas, on the other hand, fared well following an inventory report that showed a larger-than-expected withdrawal. The fuel was further buoyed by predictions of strong demand due to late season cold forecasts in the Midwestern and Northeastern U.S.

Recap of the Week’s Most Important Stories

1. The world’s largest oilfield services company Schlumberger Ltd. has finally closed its merger with leading flow equipment products provider Cameron International Corp.

As announced earlier, every Cameron investor will be given 0.716 shares of Schlumberger common stock and cash worth $14.44 for each Cameron share they hold. Post merger, Schlumberger issued about 138 million shares, which resulted in former Cameron stockholders holding about 10% of Schlumberger’s outstanding shares of common stock.

The transaction made way for the amalgamation of two complementary technology portfolios. The global oil and gas industry will now be able to get all the necessary pore-to-pipeline products and services from a single entity.

2. U.K. supermajor BP plc’s court case tied to its 2010 Gulf of Mexico (GoM) oil spill suffered a setback on Monday. In New Orleans, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier refused to reverse his earlier verdict that the company had been reckless as well as negligent. The ruling granted final approval to a record-setting approximately $20 billion settlement. This is a far cry from the company’s initial estimation of only around $7.8 billion. However to date BP already doled out close to $7 billion.

The timing could not have been worse for the energy player which has been hit hard by beleaguered crude fortunes.

BP’s GoM settlement agreed with the federal government and five US states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida consists of $5.5 billion in civil Clean Water Act penalties apart from another $8.1 billion for restoring the environmental damage of the GoM region. The energy major would have to dish another $5.9 billion to meet other claims from states and local governments. The compensation is to be distributed over a period of 16 years.

3. The $35-billion merger between Halliburton Co. (HAL) and Baker Hughes may have to step back. The deal faces the risk of being blocked by the Department of Justice (DOJ), as per New York Post.

The regulators are of the opinion that if Halliburton merges with Baker Hughes then the oilfield service industry will be dominated by the combined company and Schlumberger Ltd. - the largest player. In order to fetch regulatory approval, Halliburton had planned to divest assets worth $7.5 billion, which is not enough according to the DOJ.

The Halliburton-Baker Hughes merger is under threat not only in the U.S. but also in Europe where antitrust officials are expected to give a decision by Jul 11.

4. U.S. energy major Chevron Corp. (CVX) announced that its $54 billion Gorgon liquefied natural gas (LNG) development in Australia has been shut down temporarily due to technical problems.

On Mar 7, Chevron commenced the production of LNG and condensate from the massive Gorgon project that holds the key to its becoming one of the largest LNG suppliers globally over the next four years. Last month, the company also sent the first LNG cargo to a Japanese customer from the project. However, within less than a month of commencing production, the project got hit by mechanical faults at a cooling plant.

Chevron hasn’t been able to give the details of the technical faults but assured that it will come up with a solution very soon as a site team is working there.

5. Brazil’s Petrobras (PBR) reported that its Executive board has approved a voluntary dismissal program which is open to all the employees. The move is an effort by the company to cut spending, reduce its indebtedness and strengthen its balance sheet.

The Rio de Janeiro-based producer is planning to lay off 15% of its staff or around 12,000 workers between 2016 and 2020 in a bid to save up to 33 billion reals or $9.20 billion. This voluntary retrenchment program is expected to cost around 4.4 billion reals, with each employee receiving between 212,000 reals and 706,000 reals to take redundancy.

With the help of this program, the company intends to trim its workforce of 57,000 people to suit the needs of its business plan. This should not only enhance productivity but also generate value for the company. This program will be the second cost-reducing measure adopted by Petrobras since Jan when it announced plans to reduce the number of managers to save 1.8 billion reals a year and strengthen accountability.

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