Equinor is slashing almost a third of the workforce in its exploration unit, a measure the Norwegian state-controlled giant has said is necessary for it to "remain competitive".


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In an article published on the company's internal intranet — and seen by Upstream — acting vice president for exploration, Tore Loseth, said 30% of the unit's current global permanent workforce will be cut by 2022.

This includes a reduction in the workforce of approximately 50% in the US and about 60% in the UK by that time.

In Norway, Equinor's exploration division aims to reduce manning by about 30% by the end of 2022.

Loseth mentioned the cuts in an article that informed employees of the results of an organisational efficiency project.

Exploration 'still important'

“Exploration has always been important for Equinor in order to create value. It still is, and will remain so," Loseth said.

"It is our clear ambition to retain a highly qualified and capable exploration organisation with a mandate to continue to shape our focused oil and gas portfolio, providing high-value barrels to Equinor that can be produced with lower carbon emissions."

Equinor is currently drilling around 25% fewer wells and spending about one-third on exploration compared to six or seven years ago.

“Still, this year’s exploration programme consists of a strong portfolio of 30 to 40 wells, with the potential to deliver future value to the company,” the article read.

In June, Equinor initiated a project to identify efficiency gains to reflect the new activity levels and the need to increase competitiveness in an ailing oil market.

The conclusions from the project demonstrate that Equinor’s exploration activity in the coming years can still be delivered safely and with quality by a reduced workforce.

'Difficult decisions'

In a town hall meeting with exploration employees this week, the details about the cuts were presented.

“These decisions have been difficult to take, because they deeply affect people across the tightly knit exploration organisation. But they are also necessary to ensure our competitiveness,” Loseth said in the article.

Equinor’s exploration division is, according to the article, working closely with other business areas in the impacted locations to enhance co-ordination and alignment in managing these reductions in the best way possible, based on local requirements.

Employee representatives and a safety delegate have been involved in the project according to local requirements and work councils informed.

“We will continue to engage with them throughout the process, and my leadership team and I am committed to carrying out this task ahead in line with corporate values – being open, courageous, collaborative and caring,” Loseth said.