ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Four Alaska oil field service companies have alerted state officials that they will lay off workers at their North Slope operations after oil prices crashed and drilling activity declined because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The job cuts include 63 layoffs at Baker Hughes Co., 81 at Schlumberger Technology Corp., about 80 at Halliburton Energy Services Inc. and more than 50 at the Peak Oilfield Service Co., Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Wednesday.
The companies sent the layoff notices to the state officials over the past month and the most recent notice was filed Monday.
The layoffs include heavy equipment operators, engineers, technicians and mechanics, the notices said.
Companies providing oil field services and equipment nationwide are cutting jobs and bracing for bankruptcy filings as the pandemic delivers a devastating blow to the oil and gas industry.
Baker Hughes, Schlumberger and Halliburton have dismissed workers and slashed spending at operations across the globe.
“I think that’s just the first glance at what’s coming,” said Rebecca Logan, chief executive of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance, an oil and mining trade group.
Recent months included a “double whammy” for service companies on Alaska’s North Slope, Logan said.
The first blow came when virus and related travel restrictions complicated typical two-week work rotations for the Alaska workers. Companies also lowered their operations to essential functions to reduce the number of workers at the oil field camps.
Then came a rapid drop in global oil prices, Logan said.
“That pretty much took the wind out of everyone’s sails,” Logan said. “Now there’s not really work to go back to.”
Alaska had an estimated 6,350 oil industry service jobs in 2019, according to Neal Fried, an economist with the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Fried predicted there will be more job losses in the oil and gas sector than what was revealed in the layoff notices filed with the state, he said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.