ConocoPhillips to lay off 300 people, part of possible trend as oil patch consolidates

ConocoPhillips has announced plans to lay off 300 employees, mostly in Calgary. 

The move comes after the Houston-based company announced plans last month to sell most of its Canadian assets to Calgary-based Cenovus Energy in a $17.7-billion deal.

"There are some layoffs this week and into next week, but all employees will know their status by mid-May," spokesman Rob Evans said in an email.

The sale is expected to close by June 30.

Experts say the oil-and-gas industry can expect to see more layoffs like this as a result of mergers and acquisitions.

More industry consolidation expected

"I think this is part of a longer-term strategy that Conoco is working on," said career consultant Richard Bucher. 

"They appear to be pulling out of those assets in Canada and pulling back to the United States. It seems to be part of an over-arching trend that is emerged in oil and gas. More and more operators are pulling out of oilsands [and] you're seeing mergers and acquisitions happening." 

It's common when companies merge to let go of people who have overlapping skill sets, Bucher added.

These kinds of layoffs will continue as companies continue to consolidate, said Trevor Mcleod, director of the Centre for Natural Resources Policy at the Canada West Foundation. 

"Western Canadian assets need to be competitive on a cost basis and on a carbon basis. And so on the technology side we've been making great strides to bring down the costs of production and we are doing the same thing on the human resources side.

"Cold comfort to the folks that are losing their jobs, but in the longer run you are seeing an industry that is trying to compete more effectively."

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