Calfrac Well Services cuts 1,700 jobs amid tough year in oilpatch

The Calfrac Well Services home page.

CALGARY – Calfrac Well Services Ltd. has shed more than 1,700 jobs from its Canadian and U.S. workforce since the end of 2014, underscoring how painful the crude price collapse has been for oilfield services firms.

The Calgary-based company (TSX:CFW) said Wednesday it has reduced its head count by 40 per cent in Canada and 60 per cent in the United States as it faces the worst oilpatch downturn in three decades.

“Retaining key employees has always been a keen focus for the company, but unfortunately with the current downturn shaping up to be the worst in decades, the company has had to make some difficult decisions in order to position itself to survive in this environment,” CEO Fernando Aguilar told analysts on a conference call.

A Calfrac spokesperson said the company had 1,740 workers in its Canadian division and 1,750 in its U.S. division at the end of 2014, meaning the total staff cuts amounted to 1,746 since then.

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READ MORE: Tracking the layoffs in Alberta’s oilpatch

Meanwhile, Calfrac said it’s suspending its quarterly dividend immediately until further notice. Last June, the dividend was cut in half to 6.25 cents a share, and then September it was slashed again to 1.6 cents.

Also Wednesday, it posted a net loss for the fourth quarter of $141.5 million, versus a profit of $26.5 million during the same period a year earlier.

Revenue fell 62 per cent to $286.2 million for the last three months of the year.

Service companies like Calfrac have been hit hard by the downturn because their customers — oil and gas producers — have been scaling back on drilling new wells and pressing for lower rates.

For the first time since the late 1980s, global exploration spending has decreased for two consecutive years, Calfrac said. It’s expecting activity to be low for most of 2016, with the potential for “modest improvement” toward the end of the year.

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