bp starts streamlining

Chicago headquarters marks the first target for restructuring initiative.

Last week, BP revealed that 3,300 Chicago-area employees will soon be relocated or eliminated in an effort to globally streamline the company, according to the Chicago Tribune. This move marks the end to BP’s efforts to maintain a functional regional headquarters in Chicago.

The message was delivered in an e-mail to North American employees, detailing the company’s decisions to use Houston as its North American headquarters. There was some good news for Chicago employees, however: almost 1,000 jobs related to oil trading will move downtown.

“Houston is the headquarters of BP in America and home to over 7,000 BP employees,” said the opening line of a memorandum to employees from BP North America chief Bob Malone and two other top BP officials. “Over the next two years BP in America will consolidate its functional activities there. The move will eliminate the cost and complexity associated with maintaining functional centers in Houston and the Chicago suburbs.”

Of the 3,300 jobs in the Chicago area, BP plans to move most support and staff positions to Houston. Several hundred jobs in the operating lines of the company—refining, pipelines, retail, marketing and chemicals—likely will remain in the area, according to the Tribune.

The company-wide restructuring comes after lagging success against other Big Oil competitors. The former structure, with dual North American headquarters, made for a lot of complication.

“BP’s performance has materially lagged our peer group in the last three years,” said Chief Executive Tony Hayward in a memo to BP employees on Oct. 11. “It has been poor because we are not consistent and our organization has grown too complex.”

In the restructuring, BP is folding its gas, power and renewables business into its two main operating lines: exploration and production, and refining and marketing.

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