Chevron plans sweeping job cuts with 6,000 employees at risk

Chevron is "streamlining our organisational structures to reflect the efficiencies and match projected activity levels". PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Chevron Corp. is planning a 10 per cent to 15 per cent reduction in its global workforce this year, the biggest cut to headcount yet among global oil majors following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The cuts equate to about 6,000 of its 45,000 non-gas station employees and may be a precursor to staffing reductions at Big Oil rivals such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell. Until now, layoffs had primarily been felt in the oilfield services sector and among North American independent producers.

Chevron is "streamlining our organizational structures to reflect the efficiencies and match projected activity levels," the San Ramon, California-based company said on Wednesday (May 27) in a statement. "This is a difficult decision, and we do not make it lightly."

Unemployment is surging around the world due to the pandemic but is particularly marked in the energy business after oil prices crashed to record lows last month. Many companies, including Chevron, were already in cost cutting mode before the economic severity of Covid-19 was felt and are now under even more financial strain.

In the US, about 90,000 jobs have been lost in oil and gas since March, some 16 per cent of the total. In just two months, the industry has cut almost half the number of jobs lost during the last crude crash of 2014 to 2016.

Chevron's cuts will be "across the board but heavy on the corporate functions and the support functions," Chief Financial Officer Pierre Breber said in a May 1 interview. Field workers may also be affected because lower oil prices mean "lower activity levels," he said. About half of Chevron's workforce is in the U.S.

The company has already announced plans to lay off nearly 300 employees in Pennsylvania, where it has gas wells, and will cut positions in its giant Australian liquefied natural gas operations. The savings will help Chevron toward its target of stripping out $1 billion of operating expenses this year, which is in addition to slashing capital spending by almost a third.

Separately, Chevron said it's sending 20,000 workers home, not all of them direct employees, at its Tengiz megaproject in Kazakhstan because of a Covid-19 outbreak in the region.

Among other big oil companies, BP is reducing senior management roles ahead of a further announcement in June, while Royal Dutch Shell is offering voluntary redundancies. Exxon Mobil has said it intends to cut operating costs by 15 per cent but layoffs are not part of that plan, chief executive officer Darren Woods said Wednesday.

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