Another Round of Layoffs for Oil Industry

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MORE than 5,500 oil industry workers have seen their jobs vanish in the past three weeks, and analysts say this round of layoffs will not be the last for major United States oil companies.

Texaco Inc. announced last week that it will eliminate 2,500 jobs, or 8 percent of its work force; it also will shed half its US energy fields in the next year. Last month, Mobil Corporation said its chemical business restructuring would cost about 2,300 jobs. And shortly before that, Atlantic Richfield Company said it would lay off about 750 workers, part of the 2,300 jobs eliminated since restructuring began last October.

The job cuts mark the latest round of restructuring for an industry that has suffered as oil prices have declined over the past decade. More than 500,000 oil sector jobs were lost in that period, according to the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

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Although crude oil prices have recovered in the past few months, the drastic slide that started last fall and saw prices drop to five-year lows may have helped initiate the latest round of cuts. Also, some of the cutbacks can be traced to exploration and production leaving the US and moving overseas, where costs are lower.

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