Chevron may layoff 385 workers in Covington, Lafayette and offshore _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- The Chevron North America Lafayette office could see job cuts. The oil giant says layoffs are possible for up 385 of the 1,800 workers in its Gulf of Mexico business unit's offices in Lafayette and Covington and from offshore operations.

American oil giant Chevron has reaffirmed forecasts that it may cut as many as 385 jobs in the Gulf of Mexico this year — 45 of them working offshore and the remainder in offices in Covington and Lafayette.

The cuts could equal up to about one-fifth of Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico business unit’s 1,800 workers.

The unit employs about 740 workers in Covington, 195 in Lafayette and the rest offshore.

Chevron first announced the layoffs in November but provided some clarity Friday in a filing with the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

The cuts are slated to begin April 4 and to be completed by June 7, according to Chevron’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act filing. Some workers may be offered transitional jobs, and Chevron plans to help affected employees find jobs in other locations and offer severance to those who are unable to do so.

“We do not yet know the number of impacted employees at various sites of employment who will be redeployed within Chevron and whether the number of employees ultimately let go at those sites will trigger the WARN Act,” said Leah Brown, Chevron manager of policy, government and public affairs, in the filing.

The cuts come as Chevron is “transitioning to a deepwater-focused business with fewer, more complex assets,” Brown said in an email.

The latest boom-or-bust oil cycle pushed Chevron well into the red for its recent fiscal quarter. Chevron lost $588 million in the last three months of 2015, compared with a profit of $3.47 billion for the same period a year ago, the company reported last month.

Nearly two years of plunging oil prices has stalled new investment and spurred thousands of job losses throughout Louisiana.

“As long as oil prices stay at this level, I think you’re going to continue to see that sort of thing: companies announcing not only large cuts in their capital budgets but reporting large cuts in their profits compared to even last year,” said retired LSU economist Loren Scott, who has tracked the region’s economy for decades.

In 2015, Louisiana lost 17,900 nonfarm jobs. Most of the losses came from the sector that includes oil and gas jobs, which lost 10,000 jobs, or 19.1 percent of the industry’s total, according to figures released this week by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. The hard-hit Lafayette metro area lost 2,800 jobs from that sector in 2015.

Worldwide, Chevron eliminated 3,200 jobs last year and plans to cut another 4,000 positions this year.

Advocate business writer Ted Griggs contributed to this report. Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY .