SAN FRANCISCO - A recent special dividend from leading oilfield equipment provider National Oilwell Varco Inc did not signal a change in its strategy of steadily making acquisitions, a company official said on Wednesday.

Loren Singletary, NOV's vice president of global corporate accounts, also said the company's acquisition focus would remain in areas such as petroleum services and rig technology.

We don't want to get too far afield from our core competencies, he told investors at the Pritchard Capital Partners Energize conference in San Francisco.

NOV had $3.2 billion in cash prior to the special dividend of $1 per share that it paid out last month.

This, along with a 10 cent regular dividend that it started paying at the same time, cost the company $460 million.

In his presentation to the conference, Singletary noted that NOV, which spent $12 billion on acquisitions in the past four years, had bought 200 companies in the past 12 years.

Many have been smaller, bolt-on deals such as the two private Asian companies -- South Korea's Hochang Machinery industries and Singapore's South Seas Inspection -- that it said last month it had bought for a total of $160 million.

Singletary said the Houston-based company usually had its eyes on between 30 and 40 potential acquisitions at any given time. But the timeframe for completion could run for years, he added, pointing to the four years it took to close NOV's $7.3 billion takeover of Grant Prideco Inc in 2008. (Reporting by Braden Reddall; Editing by Gary Hill)