By Conrad Dudderar
The impact of a slowdown in oil and gas production has hit central Canadian County with news this week that more than 800 employees face layoffs at El Reno’s Halliburton plant.
A letter sent by Halliburton Energy Services’ officials to the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development indicated the company planned to have “mass layoffs” at its El Reno operation, 6100 East Highway 66.
Halliburton officials confirmed on Tuesday the company in December is relocating “the majority of its operations” in El Reno to its Duncan field camp.
“We made this decision in response to reduced activity levels in Oklahoma and the greater mid-continent area,” said Erin Fuchs, supervisor of external affairs. “Consolidating our operations takes advantage of Halliburton’s extensive footprint and synergies in the Duncan area including a strong employee hub and manufacturing expertise.
“While the majority of employees were offered relocation, Halliburton also reduced its workforce in El Reno. Making this decision was not easy, nor taken lightly, but unfortunately, it was necessary as we work to align our operations to reduced customer activity.”
State Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, predicted Oklahoma will have a flat state budget “if not a slight decline” next year due to sluggish oil and gas revenues.
“Unfortunately, El Reno is impacted greatly, which is a difficult for the community certainly,” said Bice, who represents Senate District 22. “We are seeing a slowdown in oil and gas production across the state.
“There are a lot of factors going into where we are right now, particularly the price of gas. Natural gas prices have been pretty depressed.’
Operations in the Canadian County area are more “gas-heavy,” she noted.
“When you’re not making a profit, there’s not much reason to drill,” Bice said. “We’ve seen a lot of those rigs move out of that area into other plays across the southwest that are more profitable. It will have an impact on the budget long-term.”
HOLD YOUR HORSES NOW
State Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, reported on a call she received Monday from Halliburton officials at their Houston headquarters after news about the reported closing of its El Reno plant make headlines.
“Halliburton did not mean for that information to get out yesterday,” said Baker, who represents House District 60. “They are going to be sending an official statement to the media today. Some of the information was inaccurate.”
Another state lawmaker from Yukon, who represents House District 43, noted the downward trend in the oil and gas industry has been a “concern of ours for quite some time.”
“Anybody that’s lived in Oklahoma for any length of time knows that there are ‘ebbs and flows’ in that industry,” said State Rep. Jay Steagall, R-Yukon. “No matter what the news is tomorrow about the Halliburton layoffs, just keep those folks in your prayers. They are part of our community and they need our support.”
Canadian Valley Technology Center Superintendent Gayla Lutts said she was “very saddened by the Halliburton closing” and the 808 employees and their families potentially impacted by that.
“At Canadian Valley, our mission is to prepare a workforce,” Lutts said. “It sounds like there are a lot of people who are out of work and may need re-skilling for new positions and new jobs. Canadian Valley stands ready to be a part of that.”
The CV Tech chief talked about her center’s response when Dayton Tire closed its Oklahoma City plant.
“We opened up new programs to provide opportunities for those employees who were out of work,” Lutts said. “That’s something we’re planning to work with the (Oklahoma) Workforce Development Office on.”