01/13/2015 05:47 EST | Updated 03/15/2015 05:59 EDT

Suncor to cut 1,000 jobs in response to low oil prices

Oilsands giant Suncor Energy says it will cut approximately 1,000 jobs and reduce its 2015 spending plans in response to lower oil prices.

The job cuts will primarily affect contract workers, but will also involve a reduction in employee positions, according to Suncor’s announcement, made in a press release today. The Calgary-based company also said it will implement a hiring freeze “for roles that are not critical to operations and safety.”

“Cost management has been an ongoing focus, with successful efforts to reduce both capital and operating costs well underway before the decline in oil prices,” said Suncor CEO Steve Williams in the press release.

“However, in today's low crude price environment, it's essential we accelerate this work. Today's spending reductions are consistent with our commitment to spend within our means and maintain a strong balance sheet.”

Suncor says it will cut $1 billion from its capital spending program, and reduce sustainable operating expenses by between $600 million and $800 million over two years. It will defer expansion of its MacKay River project in Alberta’s oilsands, in addition to delaying work on the White Rose Extension oilfield off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Suncor said its Fort Hills oilsands project will continue as planned, as well as work on the Hebron oil field located approximately 350 kilometres southeast of St. John’s.