Suncor Energy Inc.’s logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on April 27, 2017.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Suncor Energy says it will cut 10-15% of its workforce over next 18 months

The Calgary-based company had 12,889 staff at the end of 2019

Oilsands and retail fuel giant Suncor Energy Inc. says it will eliminate as many as 1,930 jobs over the next 18 months as a result of cost-cutting to deal with low oil prices and market volatility.

CEO Mark Little told employees on a conference call Friday morning the company will aim to reduce total staff by 10 to 15 per cent over the next 18 months, starting with a five per cent cut over the next six months, spokeswoman Sneh Seetal said.

The Calgary-based company had 12,889 staff at the end of 2019. Five per cent would equate to 644 positions and 15 per cent would equal 1,933.

“A few years ago we began to fundamentally change how we work, taking advantage of improved data technology, business processes, all with a view to improve our overall cost structure, accelerate free cash flow and strengthen our competitive position,” said Seetal, referring to what was dubbed the “Suncor 4.0” program.

“We always anticipated this transformation would result in a smaller workforce over time and one example … is the implementation of the autonomous haul trucks (driverless trucks employed at Suncor’s oilsands mines).

“That said, the unprecedented drop in oil prices, the continued impact of the global pandemic and economic slowdown, as well as continued market volatility, have accelerated those plans.”

The cuts are to be made across the entire organization, Seetal said, and will also affect Suncor’s ranks of contracted workers, although she was unable to provide those numbers.

Employees will be offered voluntary severance, early retirement and may potentially be redeployed if their jobs are eliminated, she said.

“What’s happening in Alberta today is nothing less than an economic emergency,” said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at a news conference on Friday.

“The government of Canada would be moving heaven and earth if we saw layoffs of this scale in the central Canadian manufacturing industry.”

He called on Ottawa to “hit the pause button” on implementing a clean fuel standard opposed by many in the oil sector, as well as delaying ratifying the UN declaration on the rights of Indigenous people because of its potential creation of uncertainty for oilpatch investors.

“It is unfortunate to hear of additional job losses in the industry. The reality of the current situation is grim and taking a toll on the industry and on Canadians,” said Tim McMillan, CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

CAPP, which estimates more than 28,000 direct and 107,000 indirect jobs have been lost in the sector so far this year, says the federal government should implement a plan for national economic recovery that includes taking advantage of an expected recovery in global oil and gas demand.

The news comes a few days after Royal Dutch Shell announced it would eliminate between 7,000 and 9,000 jobs worldwide by the end of 2022, a move expected to potentially result in hundreds of job losses among its 3,500 workers in Canada.

In June, BP, which has a smaller workforce in Canada, said it was cutting around 10,000 jobs from its global workforce to cope with the impact of the pandemic.

Suncor put projects on hold and cut its 2020 capital budget by $1.5 billion to a range between $3.9 billion and $4.5 billion in March to deal with lower oil prices.

At the time, a spokeswoman said the cutbacks would result in fewer jobs for contract workers and could “potentially” hit employees as well.

Suncor’s operations include oilsands development and upgrading, offshore oil and gas production, petroleum refining and retail fuel sales under the Petro-Canada banner.

Suncor shares rose on the Toronto Stock Exchange by as much as 2.6 per cent to $15.91 on Friday but remained at about one-third of their 52-week high of $45.12.

–with a file from Bob Weber in Edmonton

Dan Healing, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

The Under $100 Art Market is asking artists interested in selling their art to fill out and submit the online form. Photo courtesy Maureen MacKenzie.
Lacombe’s Under $100 Art Market returns for the second year

The market will be held during this year’s Light Up the Night festival

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Alisha Bryan holds a handful of poppy sticks at the poppy laying ceremony on Oct. 28. (Alannah Page/Lacombe Express)
Remembrance Day will look a little different this year for Lacombe

The Lacombe Legion is taking COVID-19 precautions for people who want to pay their respects.

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

City of Wetaskiwin Mayor presenting the AUMA Above & Beyond Award to John Maude and Susan Quinn. Ren Goode/ City of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin County residents win the AUMA Above & Beyond Award

John Maude and Susan Quinn are being recognized for their role in Wetaskiwin’s sustainability.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Pilots Ilona Carter and Jim Gray of iRecover Treatment Centres, in front of his company’s aircraft, based at Ponoka’s airport. (Perry Wilson/Submitted)
95-year-old Ilona Carter flies again

Takes to the skies over Ponoka

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Most Read