Noble Energy warns workers of layoffs to come

Noble Energy has warned employees that it’s planning additional job cuts as part of efforts to “streamline” exploration and focus on its highest-performing oilfields.

The company declined to disclose how many employees would lose jobs in what would be the company’s fourth round of layoffs in 18 months.

“We are working through the process and expect workforce reductions to be limited,” said spokeswoman Reba Reid. The company is trimming exploration expenses, she said, and refocusing efforts on production.

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In a statement to the Houston Chronicle, Noble said it would increase “our onshore U.S. value” and pick its best offshore land. Layoffs, it said, will happen before the end of the year.

A Noble Energy rig off the south coast of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea. (AP Photo/Cyprus Press and Information Office, File)
A Noble Energy rig off the south coast of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea. (AP Photo/Cyprus Press and Information Office, File)

In April last year, Noble chopped 230 jobs — 10 percent of its staff then — as it struggled to rein in spending amid falling oil prices. Half the jobs were in Houston; the company also laid off workers in Colorado and Pennsylvania.

That summer, it bought the small Houston oil production company Rosetta Resources for $2.1 billion, which had 50,000 acres in the South Texas’s Eagle Ford basin and 56,000 acres in the West Texas’s Permian basin, and then laid off 65 Rosetta employees, most at the corporate level.

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In November, Noble announced it was cutting 180 more jobs, including 60 in Texas. Noble had by then pulled all rigs out of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale, in the northeastern U.S., and dropped to three rigs in Northern Colorado’s DJ Basin. It planned to operate one rig each on acreage in the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin.

Few exploration and production companies have escaped the oil price crash without cutting jobs. Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the fourth-largest U.S. oil company, said in March it would trim 1,000 jobs, or 17 percent of its workforce. Southwestern Energy Co., a Houston-based natural gas producer, planned to lay off 40 percent of its employees or 1,100 jobs in total. Conoco, Chevron, BP and Shell have all cut thousands of jobs.

And oil field service companies have fared even worse. Weatherford International has laid off 35,000 workers, or half its employees over the two-year downturn. Halliburton has eliminated more than 35,000 jobs in two years, roughly 40 percent of its team. And Schlumberger, the world’s largest oil services company, has cut 50,000 workers, one-third of its staff.

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