As I survey the investment landscape, often focusing on oilfield services, I'm of two minds. On the one hand, I see pullbacks everywhere, whether it's the exploration and production types stiffing the drillers, or the deferral of projects in places like the Canadian oil sands, where the development economics no longer can keep pace with project costs.

Not long ago, my Foolish colleague Toby Shute told you about Rowan Companies (NYSE:RDC) getting the bum's rush as its subsidiary LeTourneau Technologies faces rig cancellations. Of course, there have been other drilling contract cancellations -- including a couple affecting the two big deepwater boys, Transocean (NYSE:RIG) and Diamond Offshore (NYSE:DO).

Given all this, recent comments by Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) CEO Andrew Gould at the Howard Weil Energy Conference in New Orleans seem especially important. Gould typically paints a clear picture of macro energy trends, and as always, he had some informative comments on the status of oil and gas.

It was Monday, a day when the market was running like a scalded dog, and Schlumberger, along with the likes of Weatherford (NYSE:WFT) and Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI), were up nicely. Nevertheless, as if to demonstrate that all clearly is not well, Gould announced that his company would probably cut another 5% of its employees in the months ahead. Also, he did not see a recovery this year for land drilling in the United States.

Gould predicted that, with more liquefied natural gas and increasing shale gas production in the U.S., the cycle in oil is likely to recover more quickly than its gas counterpart. And as CEO of a company that plies its trade globally, he noted that Canada and Russia have faced the largest spending reductions, but Russia is poised to rebound sooner.

Here's where I come down on the group today: If you're a one-year investor -- which no one should be right now -- stay as far away from the sector as your legs will carry you.

But if you can commit your pesos for three to five years, predictions of increases in longer-term energy demand, coupled with slowing production in a number of places around the world, should make the group progressively more compelling. My favorites are the two biggest: Schlumberger and Halliburton (NYSE:HAL), which should benefit from their major international presence.  

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He does, however, welcome your questions, comments, or kibitzing. The Fool has a disclosure policy.