HOUSTON – General Electric is shedding hundreds more Texas oil service workers in a scene that is still playing out across the state’s energy industry two years into a ruinous bust.
The machinery giant told state regulators it is cutting 362 jobs at three facilities in Lufkin, about 120 miles northeast of Houston, where it has already cut nearly 600 jobs since February last year as it copes with a dramatic drop in demand for oil and gas equipment across the United States.
It said it started laying off more than half of the employees working at the three east Texas facilities — a gear repair plant, power transmission site and a manufacturing facility — and the cuts will continue through early August.
“It’s becoming clear that this will be a ‘lower for longer’ environment,’” said GE Oil & Gas spokeswoman Lindsay Benton, meaning it’s likely that crude will stay cheap for a while. “These are difficult decisions and one we don’t take lightly but we have to make the best decisions for the long-term health of the business.”
GE acquired the plants when it purchased oil field service company Lufkin Industries for $3.3 billion in 2013. The Texas company had as many as 4,400 workers when it sold itself. GE also cut 100 jobs at a manufacturing plant in east Houston last year.
By now, the economic repercussions of the energy downturn are part of a familiar story across Texas and everywhere else drillers extract oil and gas from the earth. Globally, oil field service companies have cut some 150,000 jobs, but even that figure is less than half of the industry’s casualties since the downturn began.