Oil and gas company Ovintiv, formerly Encana, laying off workers across North America

The layoffs come as the oil and gas producer significantly reduces its drilling activity in Canada and the United States.

Job cuts come as company reduces its drilling activity in Canada and U.S.

Doug Suttles, president and CEO of Ovintiv, announced last fall that was changing its name from Encana and setting up a base in the United States. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Oil and gas producer Ovintiv, which moved its headquarters from Calgary to Denver last year and changed its name from Encana, says it is laying off workers across North America. 

A spokeswoman for Ovintiv said the layoffs come as the company reduces its drilling activity in both Canada and the United States.

She said the company has made a "significant" reduction in the number of rigs it operates, down to seven from 23. 

"We expect our future activities also will be lower than prior expectations," Cindy Hassler told CBC News.

"So because of that, while deeply unfortunate, we did take steps to right-size our organization and aligned that with our expected future activity levels."

Hassler said she could not provide any figures on how many people would be affected by the cuts. She said that information would probably be available later Thursday.

However, she said all levels were impacted from the executive level down and across all offices, including field offices.

She said the workforce reductions were near equal percentages across the company's three corporate offices, which include Calgary, Denver and The Woodlands, Texas. 

Hassler said the company sees the industry transitioning to lower on production growth, in general, and to a model that is more focused on free cash generation, stronger balance sheet and a modest growth.

She said these decisions were made partly because of that longer-term view.

Ovintiv announced last fall that it was moving its corporate headquarters from Calgary to the U.S. It had been previously called Encana, one of Canada's oldest and largest energy companies.

When the it announced the move in October, it said having a U.S. address would expose it to increasingly larger pools of investment in U.S. index funds and passively managed accounts.

CEO Doug Suttles said at the time that the name and "corporate domicile" changes would not affect any Canadian staff, result in any layoffs, or divert investment strategies in oil and gas formations in Alberta and B.C.

Since then, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected the fortunes of North American oil and gas producers, with dramatic reductions in capital spending and production.