Exclusive Schlumberger faces resistance from workers in Russia over design collaboration

Schlumberger’s cooperation with authorities in providing the military calls and refusal to allow Russian personnel to work outside the country has sparked a backlash, the sources said. They see the actions as Schlumberger’s tacit support for the war in Ukraine. Human rights groups are monitoring how the company responds to the objections.

Under Russian law, companies must assist in serving subpoenas on employees and complete military registration if at least one of the employees is conscripted, according to the advocacy group Business & Human Rights Resource Center, which monitors corporate efforts on human rights issues.

In April, Schlumberger CEO Olivier Le Peuch said the world’s biggest energy services company was following developments in Ukraine closely and then “hoped for a quick end to hostilities”. Schlumberger suspended new investment and technology deployment in Russia, but unlike some of his industry peers and customers, he decided to stay.

“The local management team is dealing with an incredibly complex and difficult situation,” a Schlumberger spokesman said in an email this week, adding that managers are required to “comply with local laws and regulations, particularly when failure to do so may pose additional risks to our local employees.”

Schlumberger leaves decision-making on employment policy in Russia to local managers, the US-based spokesman said. International sanctions “do not allow individuals from the United States or the European Union to provide advice or instructions to Russia on employment practices,” the spokesman said.

DELAY REQUESTS

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month issued a decree to add new troops to his army amid heavy troop casualties in Ukraine. The decree left the number of calls to the Ministry of Defense and led to thousands of Russians fleeing to avoid conscription.

The Business & Human Rights Resource Center asked Schlumberger and other non-Russian companies with operations in the country for information on their handling of the mobilization. Schlumberger had not responded Thursday, the group said, but two of the companies that did — drugmakers Roche Holding and Novo Nordisk — said they had asked their employees to defer military service.

Roche did not immediately comment.

Novo Nordisk said it has requested a postponement through a pharmaceutical industry association, and no employees have been summoned or received orders from authorities.

A spokesman for the US State Department declined to comment directly on the military mobilization. But the spokesman said the companies should expect their operations to “become increasingly difficult as conditions on the ground become less hospitable to Western companies”.

While Schlumberger declined to say how many people the company employs in Russia, people close to the matter said the Russia business unit employs more than 9,000 people, about 10% of the company’s global workforce.

Dozens of Russian workers have left the country, according to an internal document seen by Reuters.

As one of the world’s largest providers of oilfield services, the company previously announced contracts with Russian state oil producers Rosneft and Gazprom Neft and with Exxon Mobil Corp. on operations in Russia. Exxon has written off its investment in Russia and is trying to pull out.

Schlumberger’s rivals Baker Hughes and Halliburton sell or have sold their oilfield service parts in Russia.

Weatherford International, which said in March that the oil services provider has halted shipments to Russia and suspended new investment there, also maintains a presence in the country. A spokesman declined to comment on how the company is handling the military mobilization.

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