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June 8, 2020 10:00 AM, EDT

BP to Cut 10,000 Jobs Worldwide Amid Pandemic

A Uniper energy company coal-fired power plant and a BP refinery beside a wind generator in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Martin Meissner/Associated Press)

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LONDON — Energy producer BP announced June 8 that it will slash its global workforce by 10,000 jobs as the COVID-19 pandemic slams the oil and gas industry.

CEO Bernard Looney said the cuts will affect office-based roles in BP’s global workforce of 70,000 people and come mostly this year. The changes are expected to significantly affect senior levels, cutting the number of group leaders by a third.

“We are protecting the front line of the company and, as always, prioritizing safe and reliable operations,” Looney said after a call with his staff.

The job cuts come amid a time of tremendous change for BP.

The global energy industry has been hit hard by the pandemic as the widespread limits on business, travel and public life reduced the need for oil, gas and other fuels. Supply was also particularly high when the outbreak began, creating a perfect storm for the industry. With storage facilities filling up, the U.S. price of oil went below zero in April for the first time ever.

BP, meanwhile, has said it wants to eliminate or offset all carbon emissions from its operations and the oil and gas it sells to customers by 2050, an ambitious target born out of pressure to help combat climate change and keep making money.

“To me, the broader economic picture and our own financial position just reaffirm the need to reinvent BP,’’ Looney said in an email to staff. ”While the external environment is driving us to move faster — and perhaps go deeper at this stage than we originally intended — the direction of travel remains the same.’’

The U.S. contract for oil began the year at over $60 a barrel, collapsed to below -$37 in April and recovered to about $39 a barrel as of June 8 as OPEC countries agreed to limit production.

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