Further heralding the ascendancy of national oil companies on the world exploration and production stage (see NGI, Dec. 12, 2005), venerable U.S. oilfield services giant Halliburton Co. is moving its headquarters yet again — to Dubai.

Halliburton — which began in Oklahoma, moved to Dallas and then to Houston — said it will open a corporate headquarters office in the United Arab Emirates and that CEO Dave Lesar will move to Dubai to lead the company’s efforts to grow in the Eastern Hemisphere. A Houston headquarters will be maintained as well. The announcement was made March 11 at a regional energy conference in Bahrain.

The opening of a Dubai headquarters is the next step in a plan announced in 2006 to focus on expanding customer relations with national oil companies while concentrating more of the company’s investments and resources in growing its business in the Eastern Hemisphere, said the oilfield services giant. The company has been based in Houston, America’s energy capital, since relocating from Dallas four years ago.

A Halliburton spokeswoman told the Houston Chronicle that there would “absolutely not” be layoffs among the company’s 4,000 Houston employees. The company said it would remain incorporated in Delaware and that the move will not affect its tax burden.

Based in Dubai, Lesar will work closely with Halliburton Eastern Hemisphere Senior Vice President Ahmed Lotfy to further strengthen the company’s activities in the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Europe/Eurasia regions.

“As we invest more heavily in our Eastern Hemisphere presence, we will continue to build upon our leading position in the North American gas-focused market through our excellent mix of technology, reservoir knowledge and an experienced work force,” said Lesar. “Our talented Western Hemisphere leadership will continue to grow this area of our business.

“The Eastern Hemisphere is a market that is more heavily weighted toward oil exploration and production opportunities and growing our business here will bring more balance to Halliburton’s overall portfolio.”

Last week the Associated Press reported that it obtained a company memo outlining Halliburton plans to hire 13,000 U.S. workers this year, including expansion of its Houston work force.

Halliburton is in the process of cutting ties with former subsidiary KBR, formerly Kellogg, Brown and Root, which was spun off in November. Military contractor KBR has drawn sharp criticism in Congress for allegedly overbilling the government for services performed in Iraq. Industry analysts have said KBR has been a drag on Halliburton earnings and that its separation will allow the company to focus more profitably on the oilfield services business.

During 2006, more than 38% of Halliburton’s US$13 billion oilfield services revenue was generated from the Eastern Hemisphere. The area encompasses four regions with more than 16,000 employees, more than 80% of which are localized.

Founded in 1919, Halliburton is one of the world’s largest providers of products and services to the energy industry. Halliburton energy services operations are in 70 countries with more than 45,000 employees.

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