BP, Conoco to cut North Sea jobs as oil price plummets

Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:00am EST
 
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By Dmitry Zhdannikov

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil majors BP and ConocoPhillips will cut over 500 jobs in the North Sea following similar moves by rivals to reduce costs in one of the world's most expensive exploration areas as oil prices tumble.

Although the cuts are relatively small for companies with dozens of thousands of employees, they come at a politically sensitive time in Britain as the Scottish independence debate continues and a May parliamentary election looms.

BP said the cuts of 200 onshore staff and 100 contractors were part of a previously announced $1 billion reorganization aimed at simplifying the company's structure after it sold billions of dollars of assets.

The head of BP North Sea, Trevor Garlick, said the cuts were due to tougher market conditions, to ensure the competitiveness of operations and to align the company with steps taken by the wider industry. BP employs 4,000 people in the North Sea and another 11,000 across the UK.

Fellow North Sea oil producer ConocoPhillips is cutting 230 jobs in Britain, with its UK workforce expected to drop to just over 1,400 by March, a spokeswoman said.

Rivals Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron announced job cuts in the North Sea last year.

Oil prices have collapsed over the last six months, dropping almost 60 percent as a global glut has overwhelmed demand at a time of lackluster world economic growth.

North Sea Brent crude oil was trading around $49.30 a barrel on Thursday, down from more than $115 last June.   Continued...

 
Signage for a BP petrol station is pictured in London July 29, 2014.  REUTERS/Luke MacGregor