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Shale-gas drilling boom props up oilfield services sector

North America's shale-gas plays supported the oilfield services industry during the economic downturn, but the boom times won't last forever

OILFIELD services companies have done spectacular business in the US and Canadian onshore markets in recent months, thanks to the shale-gas boom. But with deep-water Gulf of Mexico (GOM) still off limits and global opportunities looking distinctly patchy, the longer-term outlook for the services sector remains uncertain. The main players showed big gains in both revenues and profits in North America during the first nine months of 2010, driven by increased business volumes resulting from soaring demand from shale-gas producers. While there has been some easing of activity in the North American gas sector, with US natural gas prices depressed, a switch to shale plays with a greater content o

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