Husky layoffs confirmed as Calgary company continues cost-cutting

Calgary-based Husky Energy says layoffs were announced today to ensure the company's resilience during low oil prices.

Latest round of cuts hits Alberta's energy industry as oil prices remain low

More job cuts were announced for Husky Energy on Tuesday as the company looks to weather the current downturn. (CBC)

Calgary-based Husky Energy says layoffs were announced today to ensure the company's resilience during low oil prices.

The company did not provide any specific numbers, but says the staff reductions were across its operations.

"These are difficult decisions and we will continue to take the steps necessary to ensure the company's resilience through this cycle and beyond," said company spokesperson Mel Duvall in an email.

Staff tell CBC News layoffs include full-time staff and contractors.

Late last year, Husky said it was looking to sell some of its conventional oil and natural gas assets in Western Canada.

That includes producing wells from northeastern B.C. to southeastern Saskatchewan, as well as pipelines and storage tanks in the Lloydminster area, but no oilsands or heavy oil assets.

Social media postings suggest that many of the positions cut were related to those assets on the block.

Husky also announced it had cut 1,400 positions last October. The company is not the first to announce more job cuts.

Suncor CEO Steve Williams says the company originally had a goal of chopping 1,000 employees in 2015 — both full time employees and contract workers — but they "significantly overachieved that goal, taking just over 1,900 people out," although 250 employees were transferred to growth projects.

Cenovus also cut its workforce faster than expected. The cuts come after months of dropping prices, with oil closing at $27.94 US a barrel on Tuesday.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers estimates that 35,000 oilpatch jobs were cut in 2015, and more are expected this year.

Alberta's jobless rate surpassed the national unemployment rate for the first time in almost three decades in January. Statistics Canada said Alberta's unemployment rate hit 7.4 per cent in January, the highest since February 1996.

Samir Kayande, head of energy research at ITG Investment Research, said he's expecting spending to be "bare bones" this year, much like in 2015. 

He told CBC News the companies that are the most successful in the long run are the ones with the lowest costs, but the big challenge is finding a way to be competitive with American light tide oil again.