Illustration; Source: ExxonMobil Australia

ExxonMobil mulls worldwide job cuts after revealing lay-off plan in Australia

U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil is assessing whether to cut jobs worldwide after announcing a voluntary lay-off programme in Australia.

Illustration; Source: ExxonMobil

Namely, ExxonMobil said on Wednesday that it started a voluntary redundancy program for its Australian employees.

The company added that the program followed an extensive review of its current and future project work.

ExxonMobil stated that employees who elected to take part in the voluntary program would be asked to offer expressions of interest through September. The program is being offered to all employees in Melbourne, Gippsland, Sydney, Adelaide, and Perth.

Employees who participate in the program will be provided with company support, including outplacement services.

This program will ensure the company manages through these unprecedented market conditions”, the company stated.

The company did not say what percentage of its workforce it was seeking to cut, but the statement claimed that the voluntary redundancy program was available to all employees who expressed an interest.

ExxonMobil is the latest oil major to embark on axing jobs spurred by a historic collapse in fuel demand because of the coronavirus pandemic. BP, for example, announced in early June that it would be reducing its global workforce by 10,000 people this year. Other companies which cut its workforce include Halliburton and SembMarine amongst others.

The company has already slashed its capex spending by $10 billion to around $23 billion. Exxon also stated in August that it planned both capex and opex cuts to defend its dividend after reporting losses in the first and second quarters – first back-to-back quarterly loss in over three and a half decades.

ExxonMobil spokesman Casey Norton told Reuters via email: “We have evaluations underway on a country-by-country basis to assess possible additional efficiencies to right-size our business and make it stronger for the future”.

The comments mark a shift, as Exxon told Reuters in July that it had no plans for layoffs due to the pandemic and no percentage targets to reduce its workforce through this year’s employee reviews.

Also in Australia, ExxonMobil is looking to sell its 50 per cent stake in the Bass Strait oil and gas joint venture which could earn them up to $3 billion.

The Bass Strait JV is kind of unwanted at the moment as BHP also revealed plans last month to sell its 50 per cent stake in the JV to enable focusing on higher-value petroleum assets.

Apart from its stake in Bass Strait, analysts have speculated that ExxonMobil could also sell or close its Altona plant in Melbourne, Australia’s oldest refinery.