BP to lay off up to 80 employees from Indiana plant

Markets Associated Press

One of northwest Indiana's largest and most stable industrial employers is planning to lay off up to 80 employees amid a global slump in the oil business.

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BP Whiting Refinery spokesman Michael Abendhoff said the refinery, which is the main source of gasoline for the Midwest, expects to cut 50 to 80 employees.

Analysts said falling crude oil prices and BP expenses from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 are at least partly to blame for the Whiting plant's layoffs.

The refinery employs about 1,850 workers and hundreds of maintenance contractors.

"Our contractor workforce varies regularly because of maintenance and turnaround work," Abendhoff said.

United Steelworkers District 7 Director Mike Millsap said contractors are also being laid off, but that those cuts won't impact the union steelworkers who operate the refinery.

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"We are always looking at our business to make sure that we have the right people in the right roles to operate efficiently, safely and reliably," Abendhoff said. "BP is committed to treating employees with respect and dignity throughout this organizational change."

The company lost $6.5 billion last year, which was the largest annual loss in its history.

The layoffs are the refinery's first mass job cuts in 17 years.