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Jun 26, 2020

Exxon prepares to make job cuts across oil giant's U.S. offices

An Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery stays in operation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg

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Exxon Mobil Corp. is preparing to cut jobs in the U.S. as the oil giant focuses on a slimmed-down and more efficient organizational structure, according to people familiar with the matter.

Between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of U.S.-based employees who are subject to performance evaluations could end up leaving this year after their assessments, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The cuts are expected to be performance-based and not characterized as layoffs -- and not all workers are subject to such evaluations, which typically apply to white-collar jobs such as engineering, finance and project management.

Exxon said in a statement there’s no specific target to reduce headcount. “We have a rigorous talent management process which routinely assesses employee performance,” the company said.

Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods told Exxon’s annual shareholders meeting last month that while there are no layoffs planned, the company is reducing its number of contractors and is trying to become leaner. The latest round of annual reviews comes a full year after Exxon reorganized its upstream division to better integrate it with other parts of the business and increase accountability for decision-making.

A huge drop-off in demand for crude spurred Exxon to roll back on some of its growth plans and slash global capital spending by a third, or US$10 billion, earlier this year. It’s hardly alone. Chevron Corp. and BP Plc are cutting about 16,000 workers between them, while it’s estimated that tens of thousands of jobs have disappeared across the U.S. shale patch.

“There’s work ongoing to continue to look to optimize those organizations in the work processes underlying those, and that would lead to longer term efficiencies,” Woods said at the meeting.

Exxon employed about 74,900 people globally at the end of 2019, up from 69,600 two years prior.