Unocal Alaska cuts 59 jobs

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2002

Unocal Alaska is eliminating 59 jobs in Kenai and Anchorage and closing its Kenai office in an effort to increase profitability in its Cook Inlet operations.

Unocal spokesperson Roxanne Sinz said 23 field employees were notified of the cuts over the past few weeks, and 11 Kenai and 13 Anchorage office employees were laid off Tuesday. In addition, 12 contract employees were laid off and 12 Anchorage office employees were transferred within the organization to business units outside of Alaska.

Late last month the company announced plans to restructure in an effort to improve viability. In so doing, the company identified plans to close two of its 10 Cook Inlet drilling platforms, Dillon and Baker, and to reduce staffing by eliminating positions that were "redundant."

Sinz said the platforms will be "shut in" over the next few months, and the Kenai office is expected to be closed by March 31.

Unocal Alaska Vice President Chuck Pierce said the decision came as a result of a thorough analysis of the company's Alaska business unit.

"As we studied the costs, operations and exploration opportunities, it became clear that to have a viable business in the Cook Inlet, we had to make significant changes now or face even more serious challenges in the future," he said.

At the end of October, Unocal employed 260 people in Kenai and 87 in Anchorage, as well as about 165 independent contractors. Sinz said the 47 Cook Inlet layoffs and 12 contract position cuts represents about 18 percent of Unocal Alaska's work force.

She said those employees being "redeployed" will receive a separation package paid out based upon their time employed. Sinz said some of the laid-off employees also qualify for employee assistance programs that would help them prepare for new jobs and even, in some cases, provide some funding for additional schooling.

"Bottom line, this is a very difficult process and a very difficult time for Unocal," Sinz said. "We're trying to treat our employees with dignity and respect. Hopefully, we're achieving that."

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