BP to trim global comms team in plans to cut 10,000 staff

Oil company BP is to cut back its global communications and advocacy team as part of wider plans to make 10,000 redundancies globally.

BP CEO Bernard Looney announced redundancies in an email to staff and on LinkedIn
BP CEO Bernard Looney announced redundancies in an email to staff and on LinkedIn

BP aims to reduce its global workforce by about 15 per cent due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, in a redundancy programme that is likely to affect its 550-strong global communications and advocacy team. 

The energy company said the majority of redundancies would be across office-based roles, protecting frontline jobs. BP previously announced it would cut its pool of senior managers from 250 to 120.

BP chief executive Bernard Looney made the announcement in virtual town hall meeting and later shared details publicly on LinkedIn. Since taking the helm of the oil company in February, Looney has taken a transparent and open approach to communications.

In a staff email, Looney said that BP remains committed to its plan to reach a net zero carbon emissions target by 2050 or sooner.

PRWeek has been told that while BP’s communications and advocacy team is likely to be affected by the redundancies, which will be rolled out gradually until the end of this year, it is unclear what shape those cuts will take.

“It is too early to determine the exact impact to our C&A team, but we are very much in scope – just as everyone else is, above the field,” BP executive vice-president of communications and advocacy Geoff Morrell said. 

“We will have to become a somewhat smaller but even more effective organisation. It won’t be easy but we are up for the challenge in order to help make the company flatter, faster and more competitive through the energy transition.”

Looney told staff the cuts were necessary because the company was losing “millions of dollars” a day due to an oil-price slump caused by dwindling demand as most of the world introduced lockdown measures to combat the spread of Covid-19.

The company protected its global workforce from cuts during the first three months of the pandemic, but said it now needed to reduce its 70,000 workforce by 10,000 in a plan to lower operating costs by $2.5bn in 2021.

“You are already aware that, beyond the clear human tragedy, there has been widespread economic fallout, along with consequences for our industry and our company,” Looney said.

“The oil price has plunged well below the level we need to turn a profit. We are spending much, much more than we make – I am talking millions of dollars, every day. And as a result, our net debt rose by $6bn in the first quarter.”

Looney's full statement is posted here.

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