Weatherford cutting thousands more jobs, selling fracking business

Weatherford International said it plans to sell its U.S. hydraulic fracturing business and its Middle East drilling rig division as it continues to cut jobs worldwide.

The financially struggling oil field services giant is focused on downsizing and debt reduction. Weatherford executives said Thursday they’re cutting another 3,000 jobs worldwide while closing additional facilities. Roughly 2,000 cuts are already made — about half late last year and the other half in January — with another 1,000 layoffs on the way.

New Weatherford interim Chief Executive Krishna Shivram said he plans to sell the already idled pressure pumping business, which includes fracking, or combine it with another company. Weatherford, which operates out of Houston, has about 20 U.S. fracking crews. Next year, after making upgrades, Weatherford intends to sell its land drilling rigs business, including more than 100 rigs, that’s based primarily in the Middle East and North Africa.

The goal is to bring in a combined $2 billion or so from the sales while making Weatherford a more “asset light company with improved returns.”

“Weatherford will reinvent itself and thrive,” Shivram said. “For Weatherford, being predictable and boring is a damn good thing.”

The moves come after longtime Weatherford chairman and chief executive Bernard Duroc-Danner abruptly resigned in November. Chief Financial Officer Shivram stepped into the CEO role.

While he isn’t being called the interim CEO, Shivram confirmed a final decision on the permanent CEO will come by the next March 10 board meeting. He confirmed he’s a candidate for the job.

Since the beginning of 2014, Weatherford has reduced its workforce to below 30,000 from more than 67,000. That includes about 9,000 jobs cut in 2016 with more coming early this year. The company was struggling financially even when oil was at $100 a barrel and began eliminating jobs before the bust.