What: Shares of TETRA Technologies (NYSE:TTI) are down 20% as of 3:00 p.m. EDT today after reporting less-than-stellar earnings results for the first quarter.

So what: On an adjusted basis, Tetra Tech's first-quarter loss came in at a loss of $0.24 per share, which failed to meet Wall Street's consensus estimate of a $0.17 per share loss. On a GAAP basis, Tetra Technologies' earnings were a much worse $1.11 per share loss as the company realized a $106 million pre-tax goodwill impairment and a $43 million tax provision. 

Like so many other companies in the oil and gas industry, Tetra's revenue continued to slide. Revenue for the quarter was down 32% to $169.3 million compared to the same quarter last year. However, the company wasn't able to corral some of its operational costs as total cost of revenue was $164.7 million.

If there are any positives that can be taken from this earnings report, it's that the company generated free cash flow of $18.5 million and used part of those funds to reduce its overall debt load. While Tetra itself has a very manageable balance sheet, it's also on the hook for the debt related to its 44% ownership in CSI Compressco LP (NASDAQ:CCLP)

Now what: Like so many other companies in the oil and gas services space, Tetra Technologies is in the unenviable position of trying to remain as solvent as possible while overall drilling activity and capital spending continue to decline. It's promising to see the company keep paring down its debt levels, albeit at modest rates.

Chances are, investors will forget the company missed earnings expectations a couple of weeks from now, so don't look too much into today's large decline from missing analysts' earnings marks. That said, it's probably a good idea not to make any major investment decisions related to Tetra Technologies until we start to see some definitive upticks in activity in the oil patch.