Hard times have befallen Alberta as the oil industry rides a 30 per cent drop in oil prices since last spring.

Two big Canadian oil companies laid off some 400 people yesterday. And as perhaps a more ominous sign for the future, Syncrude announced it's reviewing the start date for a major oil sands expansion in Fort McMurray.

Analysts predict a continuing slump in oil prices may cast a shadow for years to come in Alberta's oil patch.

Canadian consumers, however, can't expect to benefit with lower prices at the pumps, which Americans have seen lately, because too much of the price of gas is due to taxes, analysts say.

Amoco Canada Petroleum eliminated some 275 jobs, mostly in Calgary, blaming the cuts on the low cost of crude.

Canadian Occidental Petroleum laid off 112 employees, effective immediately. The company's Tim Jeffery said the people affected range from senior management to office clerks.

CanOxy is cutting its capital spending for this year by almost 50 per cent.

Over the past two years, CanOxy has sold assets in Canada and worldwide in a bid to cut $100 million in costs.

"The restructuring of CanadianOxy will allow us to better manage our assets and provide efficiencies and agility going forward in both low and robust price environments," said Victor Zaleschuk, president and CEO.

"Unfortunately, the downside of these actions is the loss of some very good, effective and loyal staff."