Schlumberger walks from OTC over pandemic concerns

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(Bloomberg) — Schlumberger is pulling out of one of the biggest U.S. oil-industry conferences due to rising Covid-19 cases in the Houston area.

The annual Offshore Technology Conference, which is scheduled to start Sunday, draws visitors from the around the world to Houston and is one of the largest oil confabs to resume in-person attendance since the global pandemic began last year. About 18% of hospital beds in the county that includes Houston were dedicated to coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, up from 14% on Aug. 5, Texas state health data show.

“As local hospitalization rates increase rapidly, Schlumberger has taken the decision to withdraw from the OTC 2021 event,” the world’s biggest oilfield services provider said Friday in a statement. “We would like to thank our partners at Texas Medical Center for their collaboration in guiding our understanding of the local COVID-19 situation which prompted us to make this difficult decision.”

The conference, which started in 1969, was first delayed and then ultimately canceled last year in April because of the virus. It’s offering both in-person and online attendance this year, conference organizers said Aug. 10 in an email. Representatives for the conference didn’t immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment.

Schlumberger is “working on alternative plans and will be able to provide details soon,” Scott LaBelle, a spokesman for the company, said in an email.


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