Nfld. & Labrador

Suncor announces 100 layoffs, and jobs also cut at Husky Energy

As of Nov. 1, about 100 contractors working on the Terra Nova FPSO will be laid off, Suncor Energy confirmed Thursday. Husky Energy will not confirm how many people have been cut.

Once preservation work done, 'we simply do not have additional work at this time,' says Suncor rep

The Terra Nova floating storage production and offloading vessel has been anchored in Conception Bay for about a year. It was scheduled to be undergoing a life extension project in Spain, but that plan was shelved amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Suncor Energy)

Some workers at Suncor Energy and Husky Energy are out of a job after both companies confirmed they have laid people off. 

As of Nov. 1, about 100 contractors working on the Terra Nova floating production storage and offloading vessel will be laid off, Suncor Energy confirmed Thursday.

The Terra Nova FPSO has been anchored in Conception Bay and hasn't produced oil in nearly a year, but workers have been needed to maintain and preserve it.

That work will be done by the end of the month and, the company said, the workers will no longer be needed.

"This decision is one we do not take lightly. It has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of work," said Sneh Seetal, a spokesperson with Suncor, on Thursday.

"Once the FPSO's topside preservation activities have been completed, we simply do not have additional work at this time."

Specifically, the contracts for about 30 permanent full- and part-time workers will be suspended, the company said, as well as those for some 60 casual workers who would have been called in to work as needed.

The Terra Nova was scheduled to be at a dockyard in Spain undergoing a half-billion-dollar life extension refit that would extend the oil field for 10 years, and allow the vessel to produce an additional 80 million barrels of oil.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in March, that life extension plan have been shelved. Seetal said the company is still trying to find a way forward to do that work, but there's no clear plan.

"We're continuing to work with stakeholders to determine the best option to recover the remaining resources from the Terra Nova field. Until that time, we're working to preserve the FPSO quayside until we've been able to identify a viable path forward," she said.

"This is an important project, and successful completion of the asset life extension would extend the facility by 10 years, capture approximately 80 million additional barrels of resources and provide valuable benefits to the province in terms of taxes, royalties and employment."

Seetal said Ottawa's announcement of $320 million for the Newfoundland and Labrador oil industry to support workers and reduce carbon emissions "may help in the near term" to minimize the impact on the workforce, but extension work on the Terra Nova FPSO would need to be done before Suncor can make any final decisions about the project.

After the Nov. 1 changes, it will leave the contractor workforce for Terra Nova at around 26 people.

Husky Energy lays off workers, but mum on details

Another dominant player in the province's oil and gas industry has also axed employees, but is not providing details on how many people are now out of a job or which positions have been cut. 

The West White Rose extension project would see a 145-metre-high concrete structure built at the Argentia industrial park in Placentia. (CBC)

"Husky Energy has made some difficult decisions and have had to say goodbye to some of our colleagues," reads a statement provided to CBC News from a Husky spokesperson.  

"We manage our workforce in accordance with our business plan and activities. Our people strategy revolves around ensuring we have the right structure and workforce to support our long-term business plan."

There is further uncertainty that continues to swirl around Husky, specifically the future of its West White Rose extension project.

The company is threatening to pull the plug, and has asked the government to step up financially to keep its $2.2-billion project to build a concrete structure to sit on the ocean floor 350 kilometres offshore afloat. 

The provincial government has said it is in no financial state to help out. A decision on the project's future is expected in the near future, but no firm date has been set. 

On Thursday, in response to questions from PC Leader Ches Crosbie in the House of Assembly, Industry Minister Andrew Parsons said Husky officials told the government a few weeks ago it would be reviewing its operations. Parsons said he has not heard an update from the company since then. 

"We continue to work with them on their projects here in this province. In fact, our staff will be speaking with them this afternoon," Parsons said during question period. 

"We've advised that we will continue to do what we can to help them in this difficult environment."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Terry Roberts

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