More job cuts loom at Statoil

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Norwegian state oil company Statoil faces more dark days ahead, with newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reporting that another 2,000 jobs are about to be slashed. The latest staff reduction plan would amount to the biggest round of cuts yet, as Statoil adjusts to lower oil prices and an oil industry slowdown.

Statoil's headquarters in Stavanger got an unexpected visit from teams of inspectors from both the EFTA and Norwegian competition authorities this week. It launched the start of what's likely to be along legal process between Statoil and the EU Commission. PHOTO: Statoil/Øyvind Hagen

More people working at Statoil are likely to lose their jobs, as the biggest round of staff cuts takes shape. PHOTO: Statoil/Øyvind Hagen

Statoil itself wouldn’t initially comment on the cuts, but DN reported that they’ll be the result of meetings between the company and representatives of employees. The cuts reportedly will affect 1,500 Statoil employees plus another 500 workers hired in on temporary contracts.

Jannik Lindbæk, information director at Statoil, told DN he couldn’t comment because there was no “final decision around this process” of determining who must leave the company.

DN, however, reported that technical personnel will be hit the hardest. Around 12,000 engineers still work at Statoil but their ranks are to be pared during the course of next year. Around 1,900 Statoil workers, including engineers, have already lost their jobs since the company began cutting staff last year. Many others have accepted severance pay packages and left Statoil voluntarily.

Easing the sting
DN reported that Statoil will also try to make some of the looming cuts through new offers of early retirement, severance packages and natural attrition. Labour unions involved will also be involved in determining how the job cuts will be divided among areas of the company that are affected. Some engineering positions may be transferred to Statoil’s new division that will concentrate on renewable energy projects.

The new, and largest, round of cuts comes even after Statoil moves forward with the development of the large Johan Sverdrup oil field in the North Sea, about 140 kilometers off the coast from Stavanger. The overall program to make Statoil more cost-effective is being carried out by Anders Opedal, the company’s new chief operating officer.

Statoil, meanwhile, is trying to put the best face on its cost-cutting program. DN reported that Arne Sigve Nylund, head of operations on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, doesn’t like the “crisis” mode that’s been created after oil prices took a dive last year.

‘Adjustment of activity’
“There are those who use the word ‘crisis’ … and for those who lose their jobs, it is a crisis,” Nylund said at a press seminar in Stavanger on Thursday. “But for the business itself, the picture we’re trying to draw is that there is no crisis on the Norwegian shelf.”

Nylund preferred to call the cutbacks an “adjustment of activity,” and that investment activity simply has returned to the levels of 2011. Statoil has promised to maintain its oil- and gas production levels until 2025 and even longer if new oil exploration projects result in new discoveries.  Neither managment nor union leaders want young Norwegians to be scared away from planning a career in the oil industry, despite the looming job cuts.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund