Halliburton Fires Brazil Workers at Petrobras Wells, Union Says

Halliburton Co., the second biggest U.S. oil service provider by revenue, is firing workers in Brazil after Petroleo Brasileiro SA and other oil producers scaled back drilling in low producing areas, according to an oil workers union.

Halliburton has dismissed “about 100 workers over the past three months,” Helio Guerra, a director at the Sindipetro Norte Fluminense union said in a Sept. 13 phone interview. The firings are sparked mainly because Petrobras is developing a smaller amount of new wells in older areas, especially in the Campos basin, as it seeks to increase efficiency, he said.

Petrobras Chief Executive Officer Maria das Gracas Foster last year created a 1 billion reais ($439 million) program to focus on increasing output efficiency at the off-shore Campos basin, which it started developing in the 1980s, and reducing the rate of decline of about 10 percent a year at the area’s older fields. The spending is part of Petrobras’s 2012-2016 business plan, which aims mainly at developing the mostly untapped pre-salt reserves discovered six years ago.

Beverly Stafford, a spokeswoman for Halliburton, didn’t respond to three e-mails and two phone calls seeking comment. An official at Petrobras’s press office had no immediate comment on the dismissals.

Other service suppliers have also fired employees, with Baker Hughes Inc. having dismissed about 60 workers in August, Guerra said. The union is holding meetings with Halliburton to discuss alternatives and the company is seeking to re-locate some workers abroad, he said.

“Due to the changing business conditions in Brazil, there is a need to more closely align our resource levels to current market demands,” Christine Mathers, an press official for Baker Hughes, said in an e-mailed statement. “Unfortunately, our alignment objectives have resulted in headcount reductions for us in Brazil.”