BP to Cut 275 Jobs in Alaska After Oil Field Disposals

BP <BP.L> will cut around 275 staff and contractor jobs in its Alaska operations in early 2015 following the sale of its interests in four oil fields in the North Slope area, it said on Tuesday.

BP, one of the largest oil producers in Alaska, last April announced the sale of the fields to privately held Hilcorp, though it remains committed to developing Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, the largest oil field in North America.

BP has a total of 8,300 employees and contractors in Alaska, according to its website.

Its plans for expansion in Alaska include an additional investment of $1 billion over five years, including two additional drilling rigs, one in 2015 and a second in 2016. "The Alaska business is still very important to BP. It's just a smaller business than it was before," a BP spokesman said.

BP is also considering production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from reserves in Alaska, the company has said.

The latest cuts are evidence of BP making divestments to simplify its business globally, analysts at Barclays said, though it has further to go.

"What it has not done is simplify the cost base ... This is set to be the next focus for the group and supports our view that material efficiency gains can be made," Barclays said.

BP shares have come under pressure in recent months due to uncertainties over the size of the fine the company faces over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill as well as over the impact of Western sanctions on its operations in Russia.

By 6:40 a.m. EDT, BP shares were trading 0.6 percent lower at 466 pence.