Statoil engineers face new job cuts

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More job cuts loom at Norway’s biggest company, Statoil, as it tries to slash costs in the face of much lower oil prices. All of its 12,000 engineers now face acute job uncertainty.

There's reason for Statoil employees working inside company offices here at Fornebu outside Oslo and in Stavanger to be nervous about their futures with the company. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

There’s reason for Statoil employees working inside company offices here at Fornebu outside Oslo and in Stavanger to be nervous about their futures with the company. Cost-cutting has also led to Statoil leasing out space inside this landmark building that opened just a few years ago. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported Monday that Statoil aims to cut costs by another 20 percent, and that all of its 12,000 engineering jobs are under review. The goal, according to DN, is to create a more cost-efficient organization.

“The work on this is proceeding at full force,” Statoil’s information director Jannik Lindbæk Jr told DN. “The realities of this process won’t be clarified until closer to summer.”

Proposals for where to cut next in the ranks of of Statoil’s employees are expected in May, according to DN. The company is in the midst of a major downsizing that already has cost the jobs of nearly 2,000 people.

The company now faces what can be another round of job cuts involving just as many or even more. Several “expert groups” examining company operations will deliver their analyses next month.

Stig Lægreid, who represents members of the engineers’ organization Nito on Statoil’s board, confirmed that the company is now looking at cuts of 20 percent in the technical divisions that currently employ around 12,000 engineers. That could mean that as many as 2,400 will be offered severance packages or laid off.

Lindbæk wouldn’t comment on any figures. He said it was “too early” to say whether the new round of job cuts will be bigger than the last. “But we have communicated that we can’t rule out staffing consequences,” he told DN.

‘Special situation’
He stressed that Statoil’s management opted for “a process that involves both professionals and employee representatives, to ensure good quality.” He conceded, though, that “the entire industry is in a special situation now, that that’s affecting folks in Statoil, too.”

Lægreid said he hoped Statoil can avoid a new round of job cuts involving thousands of workers. He cautioned that it would be short-sighted for Statoil to let go of highly qualified engineers because “the company depends on their competence and capacity to maintain the technological advantage that’s been  built up in the organization over many years.”

He added, though, that it was “probable” the new round would have “personnel consequences” for Statoil’s engineers. Anders Opedal, Statoil’s newly named “chief operating officer,” will be responsible for carrying out the cost-cutting. He’s been made responsible for Statoil’s so-called “Step” program (Statoil Technical Efficiency Program), which aims to cut costs by NOK 1.7 billion annually.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund