The relocation will take place over an 18-month time frame with the main phase of relocations occurring during the summer of 2002. The move will involve approximately 125 staff positions. About 10-15 positions are expected to remain in Lafayette in support of existing producing properties in the state and off the Louisiana coast.
"The decision to significantly reduce our presence in Lafayette and transfer most of our staff to Houston was not easy," said Glen Bishop, general manager of the company's Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Business Unit. "Lafayette has been a very supportive community for Conoco, and it has provided a superb quality of life for our employees.
"However, the Gulf of Mexico deepwater industry is now almost exclusively Houston-based," he added. "When it comes to developing the partnerships to execute the very high cost of exploration and production projects and to enlisting contractors to facilitate those projects, the vast majority of our existing and potential business partners are Houston-based."
Bishop noted that Conoco's relocation is needed to enhance access to existing and potential business partners as well as to fully capture the synergies that come by working face-to-face with the company's own Houston-based technologists.
He also noted that it has become increasingly difficult for Conoco to attract employees with critical deepwater skills away from more-active job markets such as Houston.
"This move also will enable Conoco to more effectively recruit and retain employees that we need to implement our exciting growth plans," he said.
Conoco expects the relocation of staff positions will begin early this summer with a small number of employees joining their Houston-based colleagues engaged on pre-project engineering on the recently announced Gulf of Mexico Magnolia discovery. Thereafter, the majority of the relocations will take place during the summer of 2002. This timing will allow integration of the Gulf Coast Business Unit into Conoco's headquarters offices in west Houston. No significant restructuring charges are expected to be incurred as a result of this relocation.
"Conoco has more than 1,200 employees in other communities in Louisiana, and the company's largest and most flexible refinery is in Lake Charles, which also serves as headquarters for the company's Gulf Coast downstream business unit," Bishop said. "Over the past 10 years, Conoco has invested more than $1 billion in the company's operational infrastructure in Calcasieu Parish, and has paid more than $130 million in taxes in Louisiana."
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