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ConocoPhillips Sends 10% of Workforce Packing, with 500-Plus Jobs Lost in Houston Area

ConocoPhillips, the largest independent in the world, is laying off 10% of its global workforce, with most of the job losses affecting North America.

In Houston, where the super independent is headquartered, more than 500 people will lose their jobs, said spokesman Daren Beaudo.

"As we have assessed the implications of lower prices on our business, we've made the difficult decision that workforce reductions will be necessary," Beaudo told NGI on Wednesday. "We have taken several significant steps as a company to strengthen our position, including reducing our capital spending and future deepwater exploration program.

"However, the workforce reductions are necessary to become a stronger, more competitive company," Beaudo said. "We are committed to treating all our employees with respect and fairness during this process."

ConocoPhillips currently employs 18,100 people worldwide, including 3,753 in Houston.

"The expected reductions will be more than 500 of our Houston employees," Beaudo said. Delineation by geographic region or business unit was unavailable, but Canadian personnel also are being laid off.

The Canadian arm announced that it would reduce its workforce by 15% by mid-October. “This will affect 400 employees and 100 contractors,” a Canadian spokesperson said. “Employees were aware reductions would be coming by the end of the year, and [the] announcement provided clarity to that ongoing conversation.”

In July the exploration company scuttled deepwater spending plans, which mostly impacted the Gulf of Mexico, and it announced it would sell mature Alaskan assets (see Daily GPIJuly 29aJuly 17).

ConocoPhillips, which spun off the Phillips 66 refining/marketing division to become an exploration pure-play, is only the latest among the majors, independents and oilfield services companies to announce thousands of job losses because of the oil price plunge.

Houston-based ION Geophysical Corp., which provides seismic services onshore and offshore, said Wednesday that by the end of this month, it would be half the size it was at the end of 2014, when it employed 900. It is laying off 25% of its workforce by the end of September, adding to the 25% of the jobs already lost since last December.

"The difficult cost reduction initiative we are undertaking...is necessary to prudently scale the company during this period of significantly decreased revenues, which we believe will extend into 2017," CEO Brian Hanson said. Revenues in 2Q2015 fell to $23.3 million from $89.7 million in the year-ago period. "We are an asset-light company and have the ability to adjust our cost structure to align with revenue levels. When commodity prices and consequently the business's revenues recover, we will rescale our workforce to meet the demand."

In July Royal Dutch Shell plc said it planned to fire 7% of its workforce, an estimated 6,500 people, while Chevron Corp. said it would lay off 2,000 (see Daily GPIJuly 30July 29b). BP plc disclosed in July that its upstream staff is about 8% smaller than it was in 2013, and its corporate support staff has declined 37% (see Daily GPIJuly 28).

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