Marathon Oil lays off 5% of workforce as part of cost-cut plans

FILE PHOTO: A Marathon Oil well site is seen, as oil and gas activity dips in the Eagle Ford Shale oil field due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and the drop in demand for oil globally, in Texas, U.S., May 18, 2020. Picture taken May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Jennifer Hiller/File Photo/File Photo

(Reuters) - Marathon Oil Corp has laid off around 100 U.S. employees, or about 5% of its total workforce, a company spokeswoman told Reuters on Thursday, days after the oil and gas producer cut salaries for top executives and board members.

Although oil prices have raced back above the pre-pandemic level of $60 per barrel in recent months, producers are focusing on improving balance sheets instead of raising output, as demand forecasts hinge on vaccine rollouts.

Marathon Oil’s spokeswoman said the company’s actions were part of its “commitment to continuously optimize our cost structure.”

It had about 2,000 full-time employees worldwide at the end of 2019, according to its latest available employment figures, with 74% working in the United States.

World oil demand in 2021 will rebound more slowly than previously thought, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said on Thursday, adding to a series of downgrades as the impact of the pandemic lingers.

The company is expected to join other U.S. oil producers in posting an annual loss when it reports fourth-quarter results on Feb. 17.

Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.