It appears another round of layoffs of as many as 400 of Louisiana’s oil and gas workers are slated for the chopping block, according to notices filed last week with the Louisiana Workforce Commission by two companies — including one with operations in Iberia Parish.
As required under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act — a federal law passed over two decades ago requiring employers give advanced notice of a planned layoff to workers and their families — the latest layoff notifications were received Feb. 24 by the Louisiana offices of Parker Drilling in New Iberia and the Covington location of Helbermich & Payne. Those same notices were then received by LWC on March 4.
Helbermich & Payne is an Oklahoma-based drilling company that’s been around for nearly a century. According to its notice, the company, four days from now, will begin the process of laying off about 76 employees from its Covington location.
Like Helbermich & Payne, Parker Drilling also maintains headquarters outside Louisiana, operating for over 80 years from its base in Houston. The company currently oversees the operation of 27 drilling rigs, including 25 land-based rigs and two barge-operated rigs, as well as a location in Iberia Parish at the Port of Iberia.
Parker, according to last week’s layoff notice, is planning to cut between 50 and 300 workers from its Port of Iberia operations. In a fourth-quarter results call with investors on Feb. 19, company officials cited the sudden decline in oil prices that started in December and has continued since as the impetus for cutting its Iberia Parish workforce.
From that Feb. 19 call:
It is clear that 2015 will be a challenging year. The steep and rapid decline in oil prices has led to a sharp reduction in drilling activity in U.S. land and Gulf of Mexico inland and shallow water markets. This also is putting increased pressure on prices for our services.
We anticipate the downturn in our U.S. markets will be severe and expect our international markets to be impacted as well, though with less severity. We are taking actions across the company to lower our cost base, sustain our utilization, manage our cash and liquidity, and preserve our ability to respond as opportunities develop.