February 5, 2019 / 11:20 PM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-Liberty estimates 20 pct of U.S. frac fleets idled since mid-2018

(Adds details from earnings release, context)

HOUSTON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Roughly 20 percent of the hydraulic fracturing fleets that were active in mid-2018 have now been idled or are being idled, as lower oil prices prompt producers to tighten their budgets, Liberty Oilfield Services Inc estimated on Tuesday.

The company in its fourth-quarter earnings said a number of customers made last-minute decisions to defer well completions, in part because of a drop in oil prices at the end of last year.

U.S. oil prices fell by almost 40 percent in the fourth quarter of last year amid concerns of growing supply and slowing economic growth. The steep decline has negatively impacted many oilfield service companies that are still working to recover from the 2014 price crash.

Liberty said its customers are still finalizing budgets for 2019 and that it expected more clarity on 2019 completions demand by the end of the first quarter.

The company reported a fourth-quarter profit of 27 cents per share, missing analysts’ estimates of 31 cents per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data. Fourth-quarter revenues of $473 million also missed consensus estimates of $496.9 million. (Reporting by Liz Hampton Editing by Tom Brown and Lisa Shumaker)

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