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Jan 19, 2009

ConocoPhillips may lay off 1,300 workers

ConocoPhillips could lay off about 1,300 people this year under a planned 4 percent reduction in its worldwide work force that was announced Friday.

CEO Jim Mulva cited lower commodity prices and the crippled credit market for the Houston-based oil giant's cutback plan.

"We are positioning ourselves in the business environment to live within our means in order to maintain financial strength," Mulva said in a company release. "We are doing this by reducing our cost structure, addressing our balance sheet and continuing to manage the company through prudent capital discipline."

No other details or timeline were available from the company. However, the capital-budget report indicated that ConocoPhillips expects to accrue about $100 million in after-tax severance costs in the fourth quarter.

"It's really too early to tell" about specifics, ConocoPhillips spokeswoman Becky Johnson said. "All of the business units and staff groups are evaluating their operating plans for 2009, and we'll know more as the year progresses."

ConocoPhillips employs about 33,800 people worldwide, including 3,000 in Bartlesville and 1,450 in Ponca City. The company already was evaluating about 700 non-refinery positions in Ponca City.

Bartlesville is the former headquarters of Phillips Petroleum Co. before its 2002 merger with Conoco and the company move to Houston. The company still employs a significant work force in the global operations center for logistics, human resources and Internet technology. Local spokeswoman Tracy Harlow said the local operations group will play a role in determining specifics of the reduction.

Harlow was hopeful that it would not hit Bartlesville too hard.

"As service providers to the organization, we've always been efficient and cost-effective; that's a huge part of what we do, anyway," she said. "What we're hoping is that that will lessen any impact here."

The evaluation of the Ponca City work force was independent of ConocoPhillips' latest announcement about job cuts. In November, company officials said they were looking at eliminating or moving the 700 non-refinery jobs there, including credit-card services, information technology and other positions.

The 750 refinery jobs will not be affected.

"That evaluation is expected to be completed by the end of January," Harlow said. "This new decision will come into play with that evaluation."

Meanwhile, ConocoPhillips updated its planned 2009 capital budget to $12.5 billion. About 82 percent, or $10.3 billion, will focus on exploration and production.

Approximately $1.1 billion is earmarked for U.S. refining operations. Another $300 million will be spent for projects in the domestic transportation, marketing and speciality businesses.

Record crude oil prices last summer helped ConocoPhillips' third-quarter profit soar 41 percent from a year earlier. The company said third-quarter net income hit $5.18 billion, or $3.39 per share, up from $3.67 billion, or $2.23 per share, during the same period of 2007. Revenue rose to $70 billion from $46.1 billion.

Source : TulsaWorld
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