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CALGARY – St. Patrick’s Day turned into “bloody Tuesday” in Calgary as major companies Talisman Energy Inc. and Nexen Energy ULC — both recently acquired by foreign operators — axed hundreds of employees, adding to the surge of energy sector jobs cut as a result of low oil prices.
Talisman, the international oil and gas producer that has been purchased by Spain’s Repsol SA, said 10% to 15% of its employees and contractors would be laid off this week, or about 150 to 200 of 1,300 Calgary head-office jobs that support its global operations.
“It’s a tough week, it’s a tough time for the industry, and the reality is that no oil and gas company is immune to low commodity prices,” said Brent Anderson, spokesman for Talisman.
Nexen, a subsidiary of China’s CNOOC Ltd., also announced 400 job cuts – 300 of them in Calgary. The job losses represent 14.5% of the company’s total Canadian head count.
“A decision was made to conduct a thorough review of our organization to ensure our long-term viability and sustainability,” CEO Fang Zhi said in a statement. “While regrettable, these organizational changes are necessary to align the company with our reduced capital spending program. We take these decisions seriously, and all impacted employees have been treated fairly and with respect.”
Oil prices have fallen more than 50% since June and have recently resumed their slide. The West Texas Intermediate oil price fell again Tuesday, sliding US42¢ to close at US$43.46 per barrel.
Data released Friday by Statistics Canada showed that collapsed oil prices are taking a bite out of Alberta’s job numbers, as the province’s unemployment rate jumped to 5.3% in February, up 0.8 of a point from the month before. StatsCanada said there were 14,000 net job losses in province during the month, many of those in the resources sector.
The layoffs at Nexen were carried out throughout the day as employees were advised about their status in their own offices. They were told not to make public statements, nor to pack their belongings, which would be delivered to their homes by the company, a source said.
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