The oil price rout has hit Wood Group hard

The Aberdeen-based oil services company has slashed 5,000 jobs since December.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 23 Dec 2015

It's not just the giant oil and gas harvesting firms like Shell and BP that have suffered due to the tanking price of crude. Wood Group, the Aberdeen-based oil services provider, today announced it had cut 5,000 jobs -13% of its headcount - since December, in a bid to keep costs down as revenues slumped.

The group, founded in 1982 by Ian Wood, said its revenues in the six months to June were down by a troubling 19.3% to $3.0bn (£1.9bn) and down 17.6% on a like-for-like basis. Its EBITA held up fairly well though, down just 7.4% thanks to improved margins – presumably partly as a result of those job cuts.  

'Conditions in oil & gas markets remain very challenging,' said CEO and understatement king Bob Keiller. 'With little prospect of short term improvement in market conditions, we will focus on remaining competitive and protecting our capability, working with clients to reduce their overall costs, increase efficiency and safely improve performance.'

Just how short term the oil slump will last is of course the million dollar question. Wood Group's current headaches are to some extent cyclical, but there are long-term problems it will also need to cope with. Oil production in the North Sea has been declining continuously since the turn of the millennium, and most estimates suggest that around two thirds of its reserves have already been hoovered up (although not those done by Scottish nationalist conspiracy theorists).  

Wood Group is by no means confined to Scotland, though, and in fact the majority of this round of job cuts has come from its US operations, and  another 1,000 were from the Middle East. Wood Group had better hope the price of oil rebounds soon so its investments in fracking can have the chance to pay off.

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