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COP Updates: Wkforce 4%cut/Alliance SD overhaul/Rodeo unplan/Sweeny SD FG Recovery

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    Charles Randall

    <Here are COP updates on Workforce 4% cuts, Shutdowns on Alliance, Sweeny & Rodeo Refineries – CER>
    Conoco Alliance refinery begins overhaul -sources

    By Erwin Seba
    HOUSTON, Jan 15, 2009 (Reuters)ConocoPhillips began a plantwide overhaul during the past weekend of its 247,000 barrel per day (bpd) Alliance, Louisiana, refinery according to sources familiar with refinery operations.

    The refinery 23 miles (37 km) south of New Orleans, began the overhaul with the shutdown a catalytic reformer and a delayed coking unit, according to the sources. Other units will be shut on a staggered basis.

    The Alliance refinery is scheduled to return to full production by mid-March, according to the sources.
    Conoco shuts unit at Rodeo, Calif. refinery-filing 

    By Erwin Seba
    HOUSTON, Jan 14 (Reuters)ConocoPhillips shut a unit at its 76,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery in Rodeo, California, on Wednesday, according to a notice filed with California pollution regulators.

    The notice filed with the California Office of Emergency Services did not say which unit was shut.
    ConocoPhillips Shuts Sweeny Refinery Fuel-Gas Recovery System

    By Jordan Burke
         Jan. 15, 2009 (Bloomberg
    ) — ConocoPhillips, the second-largest
    U.S. refiner, shut a fuel-gas recovery system at its Sweeny,
    Texas, refinery.
         The unit was shut on Jan. 13 for about 10 hours, the
    company said in a state regulatory filing. ConocoPhillips, based
    in Houston, also reported purging gas to the coker flare.
         The refinery can process 260,000 barrels of crude oil a
    day, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
         Valero Energy Corp., based in San Antonio, is the largest
    U.S. refiner.
    ConocoPhillips cutting 4 pct of global work force
    By JOHN PORRETTO, AP Energy Writer
    Jan 15, 2009 HOUSTON ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, said Friday it’s cutting 4 percent of its overall work force, or about 1,300 jobs, as the oil giant adjusts to tumbling crude prices and a dismal global economy.
    The Houston-based company also said it would slash capital spending by about 18 percent in 2009.
    After peaking above $147 a barrel in July, oil prices have fallen to around $40 a barrel, and oil and gas companies large and small are scaling back operations to ride out the economic malaise.
    Just last week, Schlumberger Ltd., the world’s largest oilfield services company, said it would eliminate up to 1,000 jobs in North America, or about 5 percent of its work force, and is looking at cuts elsewhere globally.
    Halliburton Co. also said it would begin laying off workers but didn’t say how many or when.
    In addition to the estimated 1,300 employee cuts, ConocoPhillips said it also planned to reduce its contractor headcount, but the company didn’t provide specifics.
    “We are positioning ourselves in the current business environment to live within our means in order to maintain financial strength,” ConocoPhillips Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Mulva said in a statement. “We’re doing this by reducing our cost structure, addressing our balance sheet and continuing to manage the company through prudent capital discipline.”
    In the lengthy statement, ConocoPhillips also said it expects fourth-quarter earnings to reflect $34 billion in noncash charges linked to the substantial decline in commodity prices and worldwide equity markets. The largest is a $25.4 billion after-tax impairment to goodwill at its exploration and production arm. It also plans to reduce the value of its equity investment in Russian oil producer Lukoil by $7.3 billion.
    “These impairments are primarily a function of falling commodity prices and the decline in the market capitalization of ConocoPhillips and of Lukoil,” the company said.
    With prices swinging downward, ConocoPhillips and its rivals simply haven’t been making as much money as they did during the spring and summer. Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, reported income of $14.83 billion for the third quarter, shattering its own record for the biggest profit from operations by a U.S. corporation.
    But fourth-quarter results are expected to be the worst of 2008 for ConocoPhillips and others when they start reporting earnings later this month. ConocoPhillips is slated to report fourth-quarter and full-year results Jan. 28.
    ConocoPhillips said it has approved a capital spending program of $12.5 billion for 2009, down from the $15.3 billion it spent in 2008. In October, Mulva had indicated the company’s 2009 spending would likely be in line with 2008 levels.
    The company said 82 percent of this year’s capital program is targeted to exploration and production; about 16 percent is allocated to refining and marketing.
    Mulva noted the 2009 spending program “is structured to continue funding significant projects that will grow and develop the company, while deferring or slowing some projects and other programs.”
    In November, ConocoPhillips and the state-run Saudi Arabian Oil Co. said they were postponing construction of a multibillion-dollar refinery in Saudi Arabia because of uncertain global markets.
    Analysts and investors keep close tabs on oil companies’ plans for capital spending because that’s how they find new sources of oil and natural gas.
    Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corp., the nation’s largest oil companies, respectively, have yet to announce their 2009 spending plans. Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Fadel Gheit has said he expects spending cuts to average 10 percent for large producers and 30 percent for smaller companies.
    Chevron spokesman Don Campbell said Friday the company had no plans to cut its work force. Exxon Mobil hasn’t announced any work force changes either.

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