Maersk Oil to close Houston office, trim Chissonga group

Maersk Oil, a wholly owned subsidiary of AP Moller-Maersk AS of Copenhagen, reported that it will cut about 100 staff positions, reflecting the closure of its Houston office and reduction of its Luanda team.

The firm says the decision follows ongoing work to reduce capital expenditures and improve returns from the unsanctioned Chissonga project offshore Angola. Options include a future project developed jointly with other hydrocarbon discoveries in the same region.

“Chissonga, like many deepwater projects in our industry, remains economically challenged in the current market environment,” explained Gretchen Watkins, Maersk Oil chief operating officer.

“Maersk Oil remains committed to the Chissonga project and we have evaluated multiple options to commercialize these resources in the best interests of our partners and the Angolan authorities,” she affirmed.

Chissonga field is in the western part of Block 16, about 130 km offshore from the Soyo beach crossing, in 1,200-1,500 m of water. The firm in 2005 bought 50% interest in the block, and, in 2009, the firm made an oil discovery. Chissonga was declared commercial in 2011, and appraisal wells were drilled during 2010-13.

Of the 100 employees and contractors impacted by the changes, 60 currently sit in Houston and a further 40 in Luanda. The changes will transfer some responsibilities for the project to Maersk Oil’s Copenhagen headquarters and leave an office of 18 people in Luanda continuing the Chissonga project maturation.

Maersk Oil’s nonoperated activities in the Gulf of Mexico, currently also run from Houston, will be transferred to its Copenhagen headquarters in the coming months.

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