Only a quarter of BP’s 10,000 job cuts to be voluntary

BP says the layoff of almost 15 percent of its workforce will not affect frontline production facilities. (AFP)
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Updated 17 October 2020

Only a quarter of BP’s 10,000 job cuts to be voluntary

  • BP said voluntary redundancies were offered to people in offices across 21 countries

LONDON: BP is set to make around 7,500 compulsory redundancies after roughly 2,500 staff — or just over one in ten of those eligible — applied for voluntary severance, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters and company sources.
The oil major announced plans in June to lay off almost 15 percent its 70,000-strong workforce as part of chief executive Bernard Looney’s plan to cut costs and “reinvent” the business for a low carbon future.
Many layoffs will come from office-based staff, including BP’s core oil and gas exploration and production division, where thousands of engineers, geologists and scientists are set to leave. They will not affect frontline production facilities.
A BP spokesman confirmed the voluntary redundancy figure.
“We are continuing to make progress toward fully defining our new organization. We expect the process to complete and for all staff to know their positions in the coming months,” BP said in a statement.
The oil industry is facing one of its biggest ever crises, with a collapse in demand and oil prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pressure from activists and investors to tackle climate change.
In an internal memo this week, BP said that out of 23,600 people eligible for voluntary redundancy, some 2,500 had applied, including about 500 people in senior roles.
“This means around a quarter of the headcount reduction that Bernard outlined in June, will be voluntary,” the memo said.
“We know that for some people for various reasons they feel that now is the right time for them to leave BP — but for many it will still have been a difficult decision,” the memo said.

FASTFACTS

● 2,500 BP employees opt to leave.

● BP to cut 7,500 more employees.

● Move to low carbon future.

Looney has promised to cut oil and gas output by 40 percent by the end of this decade, a radical pledge for an energy company, as he seeks to dramatically expand renewables production such as offshore wind and solar.
Investors have praised the drive, but also questioned the financial viability of the plan as renewables generate much lower returns.
BP’s shares currently trade at their lowest since 1995, when it was a much smaller company, and its dividend yield stands at a staggering 13 percent.
BP said voluntary redundancies were offered to people in offices across 21 countries. Its biggest offices are in London and Aberdeen in Britain, Houston in the US, Baku in Azerbaijan, Luanda in Angola, and Oman and Trinidad and Tobago.
Two BP sources said the company considered more than 10 percent of those eligible accepting voluntary redundancy as a good turnout. Employees were typically offered one month’s salary for every year of service.
Forced redundancies will now be based on internal scores and rankings.
“Losers get a package and will walk out by the end of the year ... Staff choice is brutal,” a source said.
A second source said the biggest challenge would be for the long timers to try to fill new roles requiring skills and knowledge of the renewables business.
“If you are an oil reservoir engineer the chances are just minimal that you can be retrained as a solar panel engineer,” the second source said.
Speaking to Reuters earlier this week, Gordon Birrell, BP’s head of operations, which includes oil and gas production and refining, said many of the jobs cuts would come from his division.
“The transformation of production and operations is significant, very significant — 10,000 people will leave the company and we’re in the midst of the process — a significant proportion of the overall number are from production and operations,” Birrell said. Rival Shell also plans to cut up to 9,000 jobs.


Ski resorts out in the cold as France eases lockdown

Updated 27 November 2020

Ski resorts out in the cold as France eases lockdown

  • Frustrated resort operators count the cost of holiday season restrictions

MEGEVE, France:  Megeve, in the foothills of Mont Blanc, was gearing up to welcome back skiers before Christmas after a COVID-19 lockdown was eased.

But France’s government — while allowing cinemas, museums and theaters to reopen from Dec. 15 — says its ski slopes must stay off limits until 2021, leaving those who make their living in the Alpine village frustrated and, in some cases, perplexed.

“When you’re outside, when you’re doing sport outdoors, that’s not the moment when you’re going to give COVID-19 to someone. COVID-19 is passed on in enclosed places,” said Pierre de Monvallier, director of ski school Oxygene, which operates in several resorts including Megeve.

Announcing a phased easing of the lockdown on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said it was “impossible to envisage” re-opening ski slopes for Christmas and New Year, and that he preferred instead to do so during January.

“It felt like the door had been slammed in our face,” said Catherine Jullien-Breches, the mayor of Megeve, whose green slopes are generally covered with snow by mid-December.

“Unfortunately it’s a real drama for the economies of the villages and the winter sports resorts.”

People who live within 20 km of France’s Alpine resorts will able to visit from this weekend, but with the lifts staying shut, the main draw is missing.

“It’s like going on holiday on the Cote d’Azur and being told the sea is off limits,” said David Le Scouarnec, co-owner of Megeve’s Cafe 2 la Poste.

The problem for the resorts — and the hotels, restaurants, and workers who depend on them for their livelihood — is that their season is short, and they will have little time after the New Year to claw back lost revenue.

Other European authorities are wrestling with the same problem. Italy’s resorts regions are seeking approval for restricted skiing, but Austria, whose biggest cluster of the first wave of the pandemic was at the ski resort of Ischgl — where thousands were infected — is skeptical.

Prevarication cuts little ice, however, with Mathieu Dechavanne, Chairman and CEO of Compagnie du Mont-Blanc, which operates cable cars at Megeve and other resorts.

He said who could not understand why the government allowed trains and metros to operate, but barred him from re-opening. “It’s like we’re being punished. We don’t deserve this. We’re ready.”