Giselle Thompson, bpTT Corporate Operations VP

Joel Julien ([email protected])

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says bpTT officials have told him they will soon be cutting 25 per cent or a quarter of their workforce.

However, bpTT’s vice president of corporate operations Giselle Thompson said while cuts are expected to be made, the exact number of jobs that will be affected locally has not been determined as yet.

Speaking to Ira Mathur in an exclusive Guardian Media interview at Whitehall, Port-of-Spain, last Wednesday, Rowley told of the impending job loss at the country’s largest natural gas producer when asked about how COVID-19 had affected this country’s economy.

“Many gas-based industries in Pt Lisas appear to have mothballed their plants. COVID has hit us hard, shrinking our economy by 10 per cent, even as we continue to support our hardest-hit citizens at a big cost. As an oil and gas producer, our production and sale of oil has dropped globally. COVID-19 came at a time when our oil and gas prices were already softening and had the effect of further reducing consumption of methanol, urea ammonia, LNG, oil and gas. It was a perfect storm. Some plants in Point Lisas have shut down,” Rowley said. (See full interview on pages 6 & 7)

“Just today, I was advised by BP Trinidad they are reducing their staff by 25 per cent. All gas and oil markets are experiencing the same thing due to reduced demand. Thousands of planes are on the ground, fewer cars are moving about.” he said.

Guardian Media reached out to Thompson to get some clarification on the situation at bpTT.

Thompson said earlier this year, BP’s chief executive officer Bernard Looney spoke of the impending job losses globally and that it can be as much as 25 per cent.

“Trinidad does not have a target per say and we are currently working through the process for our Trinidad operations. We, therefore, cannot confirm yet if that will mean 25 per cent for Trinidad but we do know there will be local impacts,” Thompson said.

“The news is not new, as this was announced months ago but in a recent conversation with the PM we reminded him that we are currently in the middle of that process. This should be completed before the end of the year.”

In June, in an address to all staff, Looney announced plans to cuts 10,000 jobs globally following the fall in demand for oil because of COVID-19.

“We introduced a three-month redundancy freeze back in March to ease some of the immediate worry for people. That moratorium ends today,” Looney said.

Looney said most of the job loss would be office-based.

“We will now begin a process that will see close to 10,000 people leaving bp – most by the end of this year. The majority of people affected will be in office-based jobs. We are protecting the frontline of the company and, as always, prioritising safe and reliable operations,” he said.

Looney said the oil price had plunged well below the level the energy giant needed to turn a profit, adding it cost US$22 billion a year to run the company and around US$8 billion of that was “people costs.”

Looney said the aim was to drive down costs by $2.5 billion in 2021 and it “will likely have to go even further.”

“We will work exceptionally hard to make sure the process is fair and objective,” Looney said.

“The most senior levels of bp will bear the biggest impacts. As an example, our new Tier 2 structure has more than halved the number of most senior-level jobs – and we are looking to reduce the number of group leaders overall by around one third.”

Looney said while it was a difficult decision it is a necessary one.