Enbridge, the Canadian pipeline company and operator of the proposed controversial Northern Gateway pipeline from Edmonton to Kitimat, B.C., announced earlier this week that they have laid off 500 employees due to plummeting oil prices around the world.
“Yesterday, Enbridge reduced its workforce by 5%, representing approximately 500 people at all levels across our operations and 100 unfilled positions,” said spokesperson Graham White in an email.
The cuts include both Canadian and U.S. workers and, according to White, “have nothing whatsoever to do with the government announcement on Friday regarding tanker bans.” Enbridge insists all decisions were made prior to the Liberal government’s decision to ban crude oil tankers off the coast of Northern B.C.
“A key element of our success depends on our competitiveness and our ability to withstand difficult times like those our industry is experiencing today. Disciplined cost management has always been part of that and core to our business model,” White continued.
Oil prices have nose dived since about June 2014 when a barrel of crude oil sat at over $100 USD. As of Wednesday, that value has fallen to only $44.
It has been a rough and unpredictable year for the Alberta oil industry, particularly considering a dramatic shift in government to the provincial NDP and federal Liberals, two parties not as inclined toward oil economy as former governments.
Enbridge says they are more resilient to commodity price downturns than other companies, but are still suffering in the changing landscape. The lay-offs will enable the company to stay competitive in the industry, according to White, but will not compromise their environmental responsibilities.