Tuesday, September 18th, 2018 am30 8:08am

Maersk Oil to close Houston office

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, April 1 (UPI) — Danish oil company Maersk said it would manage its U.S. assets in the Gulf of Mexico from Copenhagen as it moves to shut down its offices in Houston.

Directly employing about 60 people in Houston, Maersk said it was closing its offices in Houston in an effort to streamline corporate operations. Its holdings in the Gulf of Mexico would be managed from an office at the company’s headquarters in Copenhagen.

“We recognize that this is an unsettling time for our people, to whom we offer full support throughout this process,” Chief Operating Officer Gretchen Watkins said in a statement.

Many energy companies working in the United States have their headquarters in Texas. Oil field services company Halliburton, which is based in Houston, in February said it was cutting its workforce by about 5,000 because of “ongoing market conditions.”

The economy in Texas is diversified by a strong manufacturing sector, though a report from the Dallas Federal Reserve said the state is facing headwinds because of pressure from lower crude oil prices.

Labor markets, the Dallas Fed said, continued to face pressure as 12 percent of the firms surveyed said they were hiring, against 22 percent reporting net layoffs.

Maersk suffered a blow in early 2016 when Norwegian energy company Statoil canceled a contract with the Danish company’s drilling unit. The cancellation from Statoil came at a time when businesses servicing the exploration and production side of the energy sector face pressures from lowered industry spending that’s developed since crude oil prices started collapsing in mid-2014.

Maersk Drilling said it landed a dozen new contracts last year, though the industry pressures were apparent. Day rates were revised sharply lower given the weak oil economy.

Elsewhere, Maersk Oil said it was trimming operations in Angola, leaving only a handful of employees behind to manage its Chissonga oil project in the West African country. Like many other deepwater projects, Watkins said restructuring options were necessary during the downturn.

“This difficult decision does not diminish our keenness to pursue the Chissonga project sanction in due course, provided we can achieve an attractive return on our investment,” she said.

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