Will costs savings help Woodside Petroleum Limited?

Credit: greig davidson

The crashing oil price has continued to take its toll on Australia’s energy sector with Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL) eliminating 300 jobs and freezing pay.

As reported by the Fairfax press, Woodside followed up on its warning of further job cuts after having reduced its workforce by 320 people last year in response to the 50% plunge in crude oil prices since June.

Although Woodside managed to report a 38% increase in net profit after tax to US$2.4 billion in 2014, the brunt of the impact of falling oil prices will be felt more this year due to a lag between changes in crude oil prices being reflected in the LNG sales price.

Job losses are an unfortunate consequence of the commodities downturn. Unable to achieve the same level of earnings as when oil prices are high, energy companies have been forced to shelve or scrap billions of dollars’ worth of projects which obviously requires business restructures.

US energy giant Chevron has recently stated that it will reduce worker numbers in Western Australia and Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) said in February that it had cut 520 jobs while there would be more to come.

Just as the oil crisis has taken its toll on Australia’s workforce, it has also left investors in the sector battered and bruised. Santos and Senex Energy Ltd (ASX: SXY) have been amongst the hardest hit, with their shares down 55% and 50% since June 2014, respectively. Others such as BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) and Origin Energy Ltd (ASX: ORG) have also dropped 11% and 18%.

Woodside Petroleum’s shares have fallen 17% since then and are trading at $35.41.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ASXvalueinvest.

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