By Dan Healing/The Canadian Press
CALGARY — Oil and gas giant Suncor Energy Inc. says it will eliminate as many as 1,930 jobs over the next 18 months as a result of cost-cutting to deal with low oil prices and market volatility.
CEO Mark Little told employees on a conference call Friday morning the company will aim to reduce total staff by 10 to 15 per cent over the next 18 months, starting with a five per cent cut over the next six months, spokeswoman Sneh Seetal said.
The Calgary-based company had 12,889 staff at the end of 2019. Five per cent would equate to 644 positions and 15 per cent would equal 1,933.
“A few years ago we began to fundamentally change how we work, taking advantage of improved data technology, business processes, all with a view to improve our overall cost structure, accelerate free cash flow and strengthen our competitive position,” said Seetal, referring to what was dubbed the “Suncor 4.0” program.
“We always anticipated this transformation would result in a smaller workforce over time and one example … is the implementation of the autonomous haul trucks (driverless trucks employed at Suncor’s oilsands mines).
Pandemic to blame
“That said, the unprecedented drop in oil prices, the continued impact of the global pandemic and economic slowdown, as well as continued market volatility, have accelerated those plans.”
The cuts are to be made across the entire organization, Seetal said, and will also affect Suncor’s ranks of contracted workers, although she was unable to give those numbers.
Employees will be offered voluntary severance, early retirement and may potentially be redeployed if their jobs are eliminated, she said.
In March, Suncor put projects on hold and cut its 2020 capital budget by $1.5 billion to a range between $3.9 billion and $4.5 billion to deal with lower oil prices from a glut of oil in the market and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the time, a spokeswoman said the cutbacks would result in fewer jobs for contract workers and could “potentially” hit employees as well.
Suncor’s operations include oilsands development and upgrading, offshore oil and gas production, petroleum refining and retail fuel sales under the Petro-Canada banner.
The news comes a few days after Royal Dutch Shell announced it would eliminate between 7,000 and 9,000 jobs worldwide by the end of 2022, a move expected to potentially result in hundreds of job losses among its 3,500 workers in Canada.
In June, BP, which has a smaller workforce in Canada, said it was cutting around 10,000 jobs from its global workforce to cope with the impact of the pandemic.
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