A wave of layoffs, asset sales and mergers is expected to hit US energy companies grappling with falling oil prices.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a sudden drop in US crude prices to the lowest level in four months is prompting unprecedented manuevers by companies trying to cope with sub-US$50 oil .
They had been banking on a rebound in oil prices in the second half.
Prices began to regain ground in the spring, rising so quickly that some American producers started hiring back drilling rigs to pump more crude.
But that speedy return to the oil patch and the threat of new Iranian oil production have pushed down prices more than 20 percent over the past six weeks to US$48.14 as of Friday.
Oil field services providers that help drill wells have quietly implemented job cuts that were deeper than initially announced and warned of more layoffs to come.
Halliburton Co. and Baker Hughes Inc., two big service companies that plan to merge, said last week that they had cut 27,000 jobs between them, double the 13,500 they announced in February.
Nearly 50,000 energy jobs have been lost in the past three months on top of 100,000 employees laid off since oil prices started to tumble last fall, according to Graves & Co., a Houston energy consultancy.
ConocoPhillips, one of the world’s largest oil-and-gas exploration companies, has already cut nearly 1,500 jobs this year, according to Graves.
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