"This [revenue] success can largely be attributed to meaningful share gains in high-growth markets such as the Middle East and Africa,'' Baker Hughes CEO Martin Craighead said in a statement after it reported earnings Tuesday.
Halliburton's earnings, also reported Tuesday, reflected similar findings.
"In 2013, we set revenue records in every international region and in both divisions," said CEO and Chairman Dave Lesar. "We achieved record operating income in our Middle East/Asia region as well as six of our 13 product lines."
When Schlumberger reported results Friday, CEO Paal Kibsgaard noted that "international revenue grew by $3.2 billion, or 11 percent, from higher exploration and development activity—both offshore and in key land markets." The North American division, in comparison, grew $400 million, or 3 percent.
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The Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Russia are the emerging markets that have provided the biggest boosts.
Baker Hughes posted a 27 percent revenue rise in its Middle East and Asia Pacific operations in the fourth quarter, despite temporary interruptions for operations in Iraq. Its second-biggest revenue jump—10 percent—was from combined operations in Europe, Africa and Russia.
Halliburton's revenue from Middle East and Asia Pacific operations climbed 13 percent, and Schlumberger's surged 18 percent.
Why did overseas operations post such big gains?
"Historically we've seen strong growth from the demand perspective in emerging markets, but that's also where a lot of the resources are," said Mike Urban, a director at Deutsche Bank Securities who covers the oil field servicers.
The companies' overseas strength reflects a shift from a years-long "mismatch" in where oil companies were expanding and where the servicers were operating, he said.
Oil companies' international spending in markets other than North America has represented 70 percent to 75 percent of their total capital spending. Oil field servicers, on the other hand, have had roughly 45 percent to half of their revenues tied up in North American operations.
The bigger international numbers reflect the companies' catch-up expansion into overseas markets that Big Oil has been cultivating: hence, the "high growth" to which Craighead at Baker Hughes referred.
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