Total announces UK job cuts after £4.2bn loss in fourth quarter

The French oil giant is cutting staff from 580 to 400 and halving production by about five million tonnes

Total has set out plans to cut jobs at Britain’s third-biggest refinery as well as halving production after posting a $5.7 billion (£4.2 billion) loss in the fourth quarter.

The Lindsey plant in Lincolnshire was the first refinery to process North Sea oil when it came on stream in 1968, and has since become one of the most technically advanced in Europe.

The French oil giant is cutting staff from 580 to 400 and halving production by about five million tonnes.

It’s the latest oil major to react to the plunging oil price by cutting costs and hoisting “for sale” signs — it’s flogging $5 billion of assets this  year — in a bid to secure investors  a dividend.

Total’s loss for the final three months of 2014, following a  $2.2 billion profit the previous year, came after a $6.5 billion writedown covering its Canadian oil sands and US shale gas businesses, and difficulties at its refining operations in Europe.

 

The results came as rival Royal Dutch Shell’s boss Ben van Beurden predicted oil prices will remain at the current six-year lows for the rest of 2015.

“The market will remain volatile in 2015, if only because for now, Opec (the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) shows no sign of wanting to resume its role as swing supplier,” van Beurden warned.

BP, meanwhile, announced job cuts at its Kwinana oil refinery in Australia: it is axing about a fifth of its 800 workers there.

But worse news came from state-run Brazilian oil firm Petrobras, which saw an explosion on an oil ship that it leased kill at least three workers.

Of the 74 workers on board the rig at the time, another six remain missing and 10 were injured.

Petrobras was already engulfed in scandal as federal investigators probe a bribery scheme involving kickbacks worth hundreds of millions of dollars allegedly set up by former executives of the oil company.

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