BP cuts will reduce ranks of local energy traders

BP is cutting its global energy trading staff by about 10 percent, including an undisclosed number of Houston-area jobs.

Energy trading played a major role in BP’s earnings in 2008 and 2009 because of energy price volatility, but 2010 has seen a more consistent drop in natural gas prices and a steadying of oil prices.

That’s led to “several quarters of very difficult performance from both our gas trading and marketing activities and our oil trading activities,” BP Chief Financial Officer Byron Grote said during BP’s third-quarter earnings conference call on Nov. 2.

While the energy giant remains committed to a significant energy trading business, it has decided to make structural changes to improve efficiency. The cuts don’t involve eliminating entire desks or commodity teams, but rather will remove some upper and middle management positions for a broad range of commodities.

BP’s global energy trading is based in London, but it has a large contingent of traders in Houston, including natural gas and power traders.

The company declined to say how many Houston jobs would be affected.

tom.fowler@chron.com