“My role is to enable our people to deliver their best — innovation, creativity and performance — to respond to the needs of an evolving energy industry.” Those are the words of SLB’s CEO Olivier Le Peuch. As a well-regarded executive with the aspiration to lead a digital revolution, drive efficiency and cultivate collaboration for a more sustainable energy industry, his tenure at SLB — formerly known as Schlumberger — spans more than 35 years.
Le Peuch has been at the helm of SLB, which ranks at 264 in Forbes’ Global 2000 list for 2023, as CEO since 2019. He has held a number of significant executive positions throughout his career with the company, including COO and Executive Vice President Reservoir & Infrastructure. This experience, paired with the unprecedented upheaval seen across the petroleum sector in the last few decades, has positioned Le Peuch in the thick of significant change across a variety of industries across his career — and often at crucial moments.
Le Peuch started his SLB career as an Electrical Engineer in 1987, spending his early years in custom software integration and development and in high-temperature electronics development for wireline equipment after graduating with a Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering and Master's in Microelectronics from ENSEIRB-MATMECA and University of Bordeaux respectively, both in his native France. His roles, particularly in management positions, have seen him take his expertise worldwide. He assumed positions in Europe across the UK and Norway before eventually going to SLB's headquarters in Houston, Texas in 2014 where his progression skyrocketed.
Assuming the role of CEO was no mean feat. Taking over the top post following the retirement of longtime CEO Norwegian petroleum engineer and businessman Paal Kibsgaard — who was a year later hired by now-defunct construction company Katerra as its COO — Le Peuch came into his new role off the back of times for SLB that can be likened to the cliche of enduring darkness before the dawn.
In 2016, for example, around 8,000 staff were laid off from the company at a time where the company’s North American margins fell into negative territory - a period noted by Infill Thinking as SLB bracing for “the darkest phase of downturn”.
On his appointment and subsequent earnings call, Le Peuch was quoted professing his pride for the company’s “high performing” team throughout 2019, and his privilege to now lead them off the back of what he professed was “a challenging year”, which saw SLB post US$10.1bn loss.
And now more established in the top seat at SLB, he oversees product sales and services in more than 120 countries at a company employing a diverse workforce of approximately 100,000 representing in excess of 140 nationalities. Its comprehensive range of products and services cover the likes of exploration through production and integrated pore-to-pipeline solutions that optimise hydrocarbon recovery to deliver reservoir performance in keeping with SLB's vision to define and drive high performance, sustainably by balancing the opportunities and risks of energy transition and climate change consciously.
In 2020, SLB launched its New Energy business to explore partnerships and opportunities in low-carbon and carbon-neutral technologies, setting in motion a years-long journey to expand SLB’s role in the new energy future through the development of new technologies and partnerships.
A year later, the company became the first in the energy services industry to commit to a net-zero target inclusive of total Scope 3 emissions from the use of its technologies. Alongside this commitment, the brand introduced a portfolio of Transition Technologies with a quantifiable, science-based emissions reduction benefit.
SLB’s commitment to environmentally-beneficial endeavours, Le Peuch attests, is also embodied in its 2022 rebranding.
“Today we face the world’s greatest balancing act — providing reliable, accessible and affordable energy to meet growing demand, while rapidly decarbonising for a sustainable future,” he says.
“This dual challenge requires a balance of energy affordability, energy security and sustainability. It requires a balance of innovation and decarbonisation in the oil and gas industry as well as clean energy solutions. It requires a balanced energy mix for a balanced planet.
“Our new identity symbolises SLB's commitment to moving farther and faster in facilitating the world's energy needs today and forging the road ahead for the energy transition. It’s a bold challenge. But the legacy of our people, technology and performance are unmatched, and we are ready to answer this challenge.”