BP plc, the largest natural gas marketer in North America and a leading U.S. oil and gas employer, on Monday launched plans to lay off 10,000 people by the end of this year.
“The majority of people affected will be in office-based jobs,” Group CEO Bernard Looney said. “We are protecting the frontline of the company and, as always, prioritizing safe and reliable operations…That moratorium ends today,” Looney said Monday.
An estimated 70,000-plus people were working for BP at the end of 2020, with around 14,000 in the United States.
“Everyone on the BP leadership team realizes these decisions will mean significant, life-changing consequences for thousands of colleagues and friends. And I am really sorry that this will hurt a lot of people who I know love this company as much as I do. And so we have spent a lot of time working on how we can do more than we normally do in these circumstances.”
The London-based major, whose U.S. operations are based in Houston and in Denver, launched a three-month freeze in March to not reduce staff as Covid-19 began cutting into oil and gas demand. Capital spending for 2020 was cut by one-quarter to $12 billion, with BPX Energy Inc., the Denver-based Lower 48 arm, seeing its budget sliced by half to $1 billion. BP at the time also deferred some exploration and appraisal activity.
The price of oil “has plunged well below the level we need to turn a profit,” Looney said. “We are spending much, much more than we make; I am talking millions of dollars every day. And as a result, our net debt rose by $6 billionin the first quarter.”
The bottom line: BP has to spend less money.
“We are working to bring down our capital expenditure by 25% this year, which is a reduction of around $3 billion. It currently costs around $22 billion a year to run the company, of which around $8 billion is people costs. So we are driving down those operating costs by $2.5 billion in 2021 — and we will likely have to go even further.”
The “broader economic picture” and BP’s financial position “reaffirm the need to reinvent BP. While the external environment is driving us to move faster — and perhaps go deeper at this stage than we originally intended — the direction of travel remains the same.”
Looney said the “most senior levels” of BP are to bear the biggest impacts from the cutbacks. The new Tier 2 structure more than halved the number of top senior level jobs, and BP continues to look for ways to reduce the number of group leaders overall by around one-third.
In March BP announced it would delay 2020 pay raises that were due to take effect beginning April 1.
Pay raises are to be restarted beginning Oct. 1, but “there will be no pay rise for senior level leaders or group leaders” before next April, Looney said. Promotions were suspended in March, but the freeze is coming off effective July 1.
“Promotions can then restart at all levels, but in a measured way that reflects the challenges we are up against.” In addition, the annual cash bonus plan is “very unlikely this year.”
In addition to “substantial severance packages,” BP plans to help people launch a career in research, a social enterprise or in setting up a business; provide professional coaching, as well as assistance from the in-house talent acquisition teams; and provide people with laptops and support them by building an alumni network.
“As much as I would love to, I can’t make your worries disappear,” Looney said. “But what I can do is remove uncertainty as much as possible by sharing our plans with you…It was always part of the plan to make BP a leaner, faster moving and lower carbon company. That is how we will deliver on our net zero ambition. And that is how we will seize opportunities throughout the energy transition.
“Then the Covid-19 pandemic took hold. You are already aware that, beyond the clear human tragedy, there has been widespread economic fallout, along with consequences for our industry and our company.”
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