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Weatherford CEO expects 2018 EBITDA to nearly double

(Adds CEO comment)

HOUSTON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Weatherford International's full-year earnings before expenses will nearly double from last year, Chief Executive Mark McCollum said on Wednesday, a shift he expects to position the oilfield services provider to begin generating free cash flow.

McCollum also said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), a measure of operating profitability excluding most expenses, will grow around the mid-teens percent in the third quarter compared with the prior quarter.

"This is the primary driver that will enable us to generate sustainably positive free cash flow,” McCollum said.

McCollum, who joined Weatherford last year from rival Halliburton, is working to turn around the beleaguered services firm. He has sold businesses to pare billions of dollars in debt, and has pledged to cut costs by $1 billion by 2019.

On Wednesday, he said the firm's capital expenditures are now falling below historical levels following the sale of capital-intensive pressure pumping and drilling businesses.

Weatherford sold its U.S. pressure pumping business to Schlumberger late last year, a move McCollum said may shield the company from growing weakness in the U.S. pressure pumping market due to takeaway constraints in the Permian basin.

"Thankfully we're out of the U.S. frack business, which is likely the most exposed," he said, referencing a recent slowdown in activity from transportation bottlenecks in the largest U.S. shale field.

On Wednesday, rival Halliburton's stock fell to a two-year low after the firm warned of an 8 cents to 10 cents per share earnings hit this quarter from softening activity in the Permian basin. (Reporting by Liz Hampton, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Susan Thomas)