02/18/2015 12:00 EST | Updated 04/20/2015 05:59 EDT

Trinidad Drilling to cut staff by 20% in response to low oil prices

Trinidad Drilling Ltd., a Calgary-based driller, plans to cut its workforce by 20 per cent and reduce pay seven per cent across the company in response to lower oil prices.

Executive salaries will be reduced by 10 per cent, the company said in a statement yesterday.

Trinidad, which operates drilling and barge-drilling rigs in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, said it has some cash in hand for the year because of reducing capital costs in 2014.

Its anticipated capital spending for 2015 has been reduced from $350 million to $175 million.

Oil patch jobs lost

"We feel that a prudent approach to the coming year is important and have chosen to lower our capital expenditure level from 2014,” CEO Lyle Whitmarsh said in a news release.

“We have postponed some rig upgrades until demand increases and have worked with our customers to meet our commitments while also conserving cash generated from our operations."

The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors estimated last month that 23,000 oilfield jobs will be lost this year.

Trinidad said staff in the Calgary head office, field administrators and at manufacturing and regional office locations in Nisku, near Edmonton, and in Houston will be reduced by 20 per cent.

The company has suspended rig upgrades in Alberta and is laying off rig workers as contracts expire. The few new rigs now under construction are being built in Houston.

Weak oil and gas prices and lower customer demand have led to a pullback in activity levels across North America, the company noted in its statement to shareholders.

Companies in Canada and the U.S. have been cutting capital spending and trimming staff.

U.S. drillers have idled 519 rigs in the past 10 weeks, a 33 per cent reduction, according to data from Baker Hughes Inc. In Canada, only 41 per cent of rigs were operating, down from 71 per cent last year, according to the CAODC. Trinidad estimated 55 per cent of its rigs were still in operation, primarily because of long-term contracts.

Trinidad said it plans to “review conditions” throughout the year to determine whether it should resume drilling activity.