When I first arrived at Weatherford in 2017, I saw a tremendous opportunity to improve the company’s financial and operational performance.
Launching a comprehensive “transformation” program, the organization enthusiastically tackled hundreds of initiatives in an effort to improve our earnings run rate, divest low-return, capital-intensive businesses, and launch disruptive new technologies into the market in 2018.
In 2019, we continued our transformational progress, taking numerous actions that we believe were yielding solid improvements in our execution capabilities and our cost structure as we entered 2020. Notably, our combined international revenues grew 6% year-over-year in 2019, excluding the impact of divestitures. In North America, our targeted operational and cost-structure improvements included reducing our footprint, reducing our headcount, and evaluating our product and service offerings.
Of course, our most challenging work of 2019 was the completion of our voluntary financial restructuring. We eliminated $6.2 billion of debt, with no significant maturities until 2024.
Now, faced with an incredibly uncertain industry and global economic landscape for 2020 caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the oversupply of crude oil, we, by necessity, must and will continue to adjust our global operations to meet the dynamic market we are currently facing. In my 40-year career, I’ve witnessed historic natural disasters, several wars, three financial crises, the atrocities of September 11, and five industry downturns. What we’re facing now is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
Given these developments, we have undertaken further actions to align our business with the unprecedented disruption on the supply/demand equation for oil, the resulting precipitous decline in commodity prices and substantial reductions to the capital spending plans of exploration and production companies. We have recently supplemented our cost reduction initiatives with a number of actions, including temporary pay reductions and furloughs, total headcount reductions across our global operations, reductions in planned capital expenditures, and further consolidating geographic and product line structures to better align with market conditions.
We remain committed to improving our profitability and cash flow during the uncertain industry and global economic landscape we are facing in 2020. We are intently focused on continuing to improve our business, and we believe meaningful opportunities remain long term. I also believe Weatherford’s geographic footprint and product mix will provide a differentiated position, particularly in the difficult market during 2020.
We still have a lot of work to do as an organization. However, we know what we are capable of, and we are committed to delivering for all of you. With the need to continuously improve now firmly embedded in our organizational DNA, we remain focused on enhancing the way we work, particularly by standardizing, simplifying, and systematizing aspects of our operations.
We are supported by our new Board of Directors, who bring a significant depth of expertise, renewed energy, and a fresh perspective. Our Board, together with the leadership team, including our new Chief Financial Officer Christian Garcia, are committed to taking the necessary actions to continue to optimize our business and execute on opportunities to improve profitability, cash flow, and returns. Though difficult, these new strategic actions are in the best interest of our employees, shareholders, and our future as a company.
Market conditions are part of what we at Weatherford call gravity issues—those things outside of our control. We remain aware of them and their effects on our business, but we focus our energy on our Blue Chips—a term that we use internally to describe the areas in which we should prioritize our time to drive the most substantial impact on the business. This term was originally derived from our culture-shaping work and quickly became part of our common language.
Our Blue Chips of immediate focus include Supply Chain and Manufacturing, Working Capital, and Technology Commercialization.
In Supply Chain and Manufacturing, we committed to reducing inventory and improving manufacturing variance.
We want to be free-cash-flow positive in 2020. To achieve that result, we will monetize Working Capital through proactive management of our inventory and accounts receivable processes.
Technology Commercialization will be centered around bringing customers market-focused integrated solutions. Rather than basing these solutions on individual product segments, we organized them by four domains: mature fields, unconventionals, offshore, and digitalization and automation. These domains represent some of our customers’ most important challenges.
Our customers’ needs play a role in our Blue Chips. Solving their challenges is critical to both our reputation as industry leaders and our ability to achieve our financial objectives.
Last year, we strengthened our relationships with customers by hosting a series of technology roadshows to address their unique challenges. Today, I'm pleased to say that we are closer to our customers than ever before, and we will remain focused on what they need and deserve.
In January and February of 2020, we were well on target to achieve measurable results on all our Blue Chips. However, we recognize the market factors at play and acknowledge that these are challenging times. There is increased market volatility due to the COVID-19 pandemic and recent uncertainty in the global oil markets, resulting in significant commodity price weakness and material reductions to the capital spending plans of our customers. At this time, oil very much remains a challenged asset class.
With the ongoing pandemic, many operators were forced to postpone or discontinue work. In one recent operation, our digital solutions enabled a remote sidetrack to keep operations going while protecting personnel. These innovative capabilities make Weatherford a trusted and respected business partner, and we will continue to deliver through the pandemic and beyond.
As much as we have changed as an organization in the last several years, our commitment to safety and service quality remains steadfast. Because of the pandemic, we’ve heightened our health and safety protocols across the board to keep our personnel and the personnel of our customers safe.
As always, in our global offices and field operations, we empower every member of our team with a "Stop Work Authority," which gives them the license to halt work if they see or encounter potentially unsafe working conditions. In 2019, our safety performance improved, and I believe that it will continue to improve.
As we reflect on 2019, I know that we would not be where we are today if it weren't for our people. Our employees continue to show strength, resilience to adversity, and a sincere attitude that propels us forward. Thank you, One Weatherford. Your hard work has not gone unnoticed.
I also want to express our gratitude to our customers, shareholders, suppliers, and vendors. Your support in 2019 was critical to helping us overcome our challenges. We look forward to the new heights we'll achieve together as your trusted business partner.
As we move forward, know that we are integrating our organization and optimizing the way we deliver our solutions and services. Providing our customers with solutions, continuously improving our business, and collaborating inside and outside our organization and industry will help us achieve our objectives and position ourselves as a tier-one oilfield services provider.
I firmly believe that we are the leading wellbore and production solutions company, and we are here to solve the toughest challenges for our customers, our business, and the energy industry.