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Market is brutal, Weatherford says

Oil and gas field services company plans dramatic footprint reduction.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Feb. 4, 2016 at 6:20 AM
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BAAR, Switzerland, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Noting the "brutality" of the oil sector downturn, field services company Weatherford International said it was looking to trim up to 6,000 jobs.

Crude oil prices are down about 3 percent for the year, but have swung to a loss of up to 11 percent amid heightened volatility. Since mid-2014, crude is down about 70 percent, forcing many of the world's largest energy companies to cut spending and staff. U.S. supermajor Chevron last week reported its first loss in more than a decade.

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"The brutality and length of this down cycle has challenged the entire industry, both our customer base as well as our peers," Weatherford's top executive Bernard J. Duroc-Danner said in a statement.

Weatherford, which has headquarters in Switzerland, said it lost $1.2 billion in profits during the fourth quarter of 2015. Revenue of $2 billion was down 46 percent. Rivals Schlumberger, Baker Hughes and Halliburton all reported similar losses when they issued their financial statements in January.

Lower crude oil prices means less capital to invest in exploration and production, the side of the industry serviced by companies like Weatherford. The company said most of the loss in revenue during the fourth quarter was a result of the decrease in rig activity across North America, with most of that coming from the United States.

Short-term, the company said it was confronted with what it described as an "unusually severe market contraction." Last year, the company closed six service facilities and 90 operating facilities in North America while at the same time completing its target of cutting payrolls by 14,000.

"As we continue to face harsh market conditions, we plan to reduce our cost structure by effecting a further headcount reduction of 6,000, which we expect to have completed during the first half of 2016," the company said.

Capital spending for 2016 is expected at $300 million, 56 percent lower than last year. More facilities are slated for closure as the company works to reduce its footprint during the market downturn.

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