NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- At the Howard Weil Energy Conference this week, Schlumberger (SLB) CEO Paal Kibsgaard spoke with a less-dire tone than he used at the previous year's conference. However, he still provided a very tentative outlook on the multinational oil and gas drillers for 2013.It's not hard to see why. Since 2008, when the peak of natural gas drilling was reached, the rig count here in the U.S. has plummeted from a high of 1,606 working rigs to now 431, the lowest number seen since 1999. The massive increase in horizontal drilling for tight oil here in the U.S. has done something to counteract that difficult trend for the drillers, increasing more than sixfold since 2009. But it still hasn't been enough to offset the weak growth domestically.
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