12/18/2014 09:54 EST | Updated 02/17/2015 05:59 EST

Energy Firms Shedding Jobs As Oil Prices Keep Sliding, Recruiter Says

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An employee stands inside an oil treatment room at Christina Lake, a situ oil production facility half owned by Cenovus Energy Inc. and ConocoPhillips, in Conklin, Alberta, Canada, on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. Cenovus Energy Inc. is Canada's fourth-largest oil producer. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Calgary recruiter in the energy sector says hiring has started to slow down and big companies are starting to let go of staff as oil prices drop.

Jason Elvy, Canadian business manager with JAB recruitment, said some large companies are making changes.

“They are releasing numbers of staff. So instead of receiving multiple requisitions or job orders for these organizations, it's the flip side — they're releasing multiple employees from the company,” he said.

"A lot of major organizations that are releasing some core staff because of the current situation. When I say core staff, these are long-term employees not necessarily short-term contractors."

The price of oil closed at just over $56 per barrel on Wednesday, almost half of what it was just six months ago.

That freefall has led a number of companies to announce cuts to capital spending this week.

Husky Energy is cutting its capital budget by 50 per cent next year.

Whitecap Resources is reducing its budget by 32 per cent, and both Bonavista Energy and Penn West

are cutting spending by about 30 per cent. 

Bill Gwozd, a senior vice-president at Ziff Energy, said companies are reviewing their bottom lines.

“When you see commodity prices drop, quite often you'll see expenditures drop. When you see expenditures drop, people become concerned about their job.”

Elvy said projects that have already started are proceeding. But that's not the case for new ones.

"They're just either being shelved or they're being stopped completely until the market does change and the price of oil lifts,” he said.

When that will happen is anyone's guess, according to Calgary energy economist Judith Dwarkin.

"Worst-case scenario is there could be more than a million and a half barrels per day of surplus supplies sloshing around. And that's very bearish for price,” she said. 


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