CB&I said it will lay off 163 employees at its Walker pipe fabrication yard within the next month in a move an official said could be temporary, while an operation formerly owned by CB&I that provides maintenance services at Entergy's Riverbend nuclear plant announced a 123-job layoff.

Gentry Brann, a spokeswoman for CB&I, said in an email that staffing at the Walker pipe fabrication yard is based on the backlog of work, with the number of employees going up and down.

“This is quite common in our industry and expected to be temporary,” Brann said. “We are expecting an increase in the work for our Walker facility in the next few months and intend to reinstate many of the workers."

Jamie Etheridge, chief of operations for the town of Walker, said news of the layoffs is a concern. “They’re a big partner at our industrial park,” he said. “We hate to see them lay off a bunch of employees.”

The company sent a letter to the Louisiana Workforce Commission on Dec. 21 outlining its plans to lay off the employees by Feb. 19.

Separately, a letter was sent to the state a day earlier from Aptim, saying it would lay off 123 workers at Entergy's Riverbend nuclear plant effective Jan. 12. Aptim was formed by New York-based Veritas Capital after its July 2017 acquisition of CB&I's capital services business in a $755 million deal. The segment, which had about 1,500 employees locally, included maintenance, environmental engineering and remediation, engineering and construction services.

A press release put out Jan. 2 by Philadelphia-based Day & Zimmermann announced that its engineering, construction and maintenance group, was awarded a three-year contract by Entergy Corp. to provide maintenance and modification services at Entergy’s nuclear reactors in Louisiana, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New York and Vermont.

The Woodlands, Texas-based CB&I still has more than 2,000 employees in metro Baton Rouge in its core engineering, construction, fabrication and technology businesses. This includes workers at its office on Essen Lane and at pipeyards in Walker and Prairieville. Statewide, the company has more than 10,000 employees.

Its layoff notice for the Walker facility was filed just after a merger was announced in December between CB&I and McDermott International Inc. in a $6 billion deal to create a Houston-based onshore-offshore company with broad engineering, procurement, construction and installation services.

The combined McDermott and CB&I operations will have revenues of about $10 billion and a backlog of work totaling about $14.5 billion. The transaction, which includes CB&I's technology business and former engineered products business, is expected in second-quarter 2018.

The companies said, as a result of the merger, they will have a broadened reach across the entire energy industry and a stronger and more flexible financial profile than CB&I would independently.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.

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