ABERDEEN, Scotland, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- British energy company BP said Tuesday it would trim around 600 from its payroll to ensure it remains competitive in the North Sea environment.
"Given the well-documented challenges of operating in this maturing region and in toughening market conditions, we need to take specific steps to ensure our business remains competitive and robust," Mark Thomas, regional president for BP's North Sea division, said in an emailed statement. "An inevitable outcome of this will be an impact on headcount and we expect a reduction of around 600 staff and agency contractor roles by the end of 2017, with the majority of these taking place this year.
BP said the staff reductions were in line with efforts to cut as many as 4,000 people from its global portfolio by the end of 2017.
The move is in line with its industry peers. ConocoPhillips and Chevron were among those saying they'd need to make their operations more efficient to endure through the market downturn.
Last month, Deirdre Michie, head of the industry group Oil and Gas U.K., said there were signs of life in the regional energy sector, but those signs shouldn't mask the underlying risks facing the industry moving forward into 2016.
BP is in the middle of a five-year, $4.5 billion investment program in the North Sea. The strategy comes as the low price of oil is starving companies of the capital needed to fund exploration and production.
The company said it remained committed to operations in the North Sea, with at least two major projects tapped for future development. About $2 billion in capital targets North Sea projects for 2016.
"We are committed to the North Sea and see a long-term future for our business here," Thomas said.