Lately the leaders of some of the world’s biggest energy companies have been saying oil prices will remain depressed for some time – perhaps for the next five years – and now they’ve decided to cut their costs in the most painful way possible: massive job cuts.
Royal Dutch Shell announced July 30 that it expects to eliminate 6,500 positions. The announcement came the same day it reported that earnings in the second quarter were $3.4 billion, 33 percent lower than the $5.1 billion it made during the same period of 2014.
The same day, the British utility Centrica said it plans to cut fully 6,000 jobs and reduce the size of its division for producing oil and gas. The day before, Chevron Corp. of the United States expected to eliminate 1,500 positions.
And as oil producers struggle to rein in spending elsewhere in their operations, the pain is being shared by the oil service companies they rely on. The Italian energy contractor Saipem, for example, says it plans to cut 8,800 jobs in two years.
“We have to be resilient in a world where oil prices remain low for some time,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said in the statement. “These are challenging times for the industry, and we are responding with urgency and determination.”
It may be too early to determine whether the price of oil, which began falling a year ago, was now forcing the energy industry to go beyond cutting fat and is now gouging into the very sinew of its operations, but it’s clear that they’re convinced that other economies simply weren’t enough to keep themselves afloat.
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