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Canada's Nexen reducing headcount

Company's performance tarnished by fatalities at Canadian oil sands facility.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   March 2, 2016 at 7:08 AM
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CALGARY, Alberta, March 2 (UPI) -- A Canadian subsidiary of China National Offshore Oil Corp. said it was reducing its headcount as the industry works through a weakened oil economy.

Subsidiary Nexen Energy said payrolls would be reduced by 120 as pressure mounts on oil and gas companies.

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"Given the current economic reality, we have made the difficult decision to reduce our workforce," Brittney Price, a company spokeswoman, was quoted by Bloomberg News as saying. "We take these decisions seriously, and all impacted employees have been treated fairly and with respect."

Signs of a slowdown in the industry were strong enough in March 2015 to prompt Nexen to eliminate more than 300 employees, with the vast majority of the headcount reduction coming from its North American operations.

The International Monetary Fund warned more than a year ago that a downturn in crude oil prices could hurt the Canadian energy sector. Last month, the provincial government of Alberta, where much of the oil sector is based, said its economy this year should shrink by 1.1 percent, after a 1.5 percent decline for full-year 2015.

In a January report to investors, CNOOC said the oil market was in for a downturn that may last "much longer" that initially expected. To navigate the weakness, the Chinese company said it would focus on lowering costs in order to build momentum behind long-term development.

Nexen's performance has been impacted by the temporary closure of its Long Lake oil sands facility in northern Alberta. An explosion at the site in January left two workers dead.

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