Royal Dutch Shell, the parent company of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, has unfolded plans to cut its global workforce, including Nigeria’s, by about 10,000 in 2016, as it battles increasing pressures from declining global oil prices on its operations.
The Chief Executive Officer of the group, Ben Van Beurden, said in a webcast on its 2015 fourth quarter and full year results early on Thursday that this was part of holistic changes the company was undertaking to restructure and refocus its operations in 2016.
“We are making substantial changes in the company, reorganising our upstream, and reducing costs and capital investment as we refocus Shell, and respond to lower oil prices,” Mr. Beurden said.
The chief executive, who said the planned merger between Shell group and BG Group was expected to be completed in a few weeks, explained that no fewer than 10,000 staff and direct contractors for both companies would be sacked.
Reviewing the group’s performance in 2015, Mr. Beurden said the poor situation compelled the company to significantly curtail spending by reducing the number of new investment decisions and designing lower-cost development solutions in its operation.
He said the decision had reduced the group’s operating costs and capital investment during the year by about $12.5 billion when compared to the previous year, adding that further reductions were expect in 2016 to stay afloat.
“As a result of our actions in 2015, we have retained a strong balance sheet position, with 14% gearing. Shell will take further impactful decisions to manage through the oil price downturn, should conditions warrant that,” the Shell Group boss said.
The group had announced a $1.8 billion, or 44 per cent drop in total earnings for the last quarter of 2015, compared with $4.2 billion for the fourth quarter of 2014. Full year 2015 earnings dropped to $10.7 billion compared with $22.6 billion in 2014.
In 2016, apart from the group’s decision to pull out of the Bab sour gas project in Abu Dhabi, Mr. Beurden said the company also decided to postpone final investment decisions, FIDs, on both LNG Canada as well as the Bonga South West in deep water project in Nigeria.
The Bonga South West project includes the construction of a new floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) facility with an expected peak production of 225,000 barrels of oil per day.
The Bonga South West oil field, which straddles oil mining leases (OMLs) 118, 132 and 140, is operated by the Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, SNEPCo, the deepwater operating arm of Shell Nigeria.
The Bonga project itself, which began oil and gas production in 2005, is Nigeria’s first deep-water development in water depths of over 1,000 metres.
In 2014, SNEPCo also commenced oil production at the Bonga North West deep-water development, with oil transported by a new undersea pipeline to the existing Bonga FPSO and export facility.
In November 2014, SNEPCo announced plans to drill eight more wells in the Bonga field in the third phase of the Bonga Main development. Bonga has produced over 500 million barrels of oil to date.