Coronavirus toll on Alaska oil industry grows by 300 as Doyon Drilling announces layoffs

A Doyon Drilling rig puts in new wells at the ConocoPhillips CD5 drill site on the North Slope. (Rachel Waldholz/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

Another North Slope oil-field contractor said Thursday that it is laying off 300 workers as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hammer the industry in Alaska and around the world.

Doyon Drilling, a subsidiary of the Interior Alaska Native regional corporation Doyon Ltd., said in a notice to the state that the layoffs are expected to be permanent “until the crisis is over and the industry recovers.”

Read more coronavirus coverage from Alaska Public Media

“As a result of the unforeseen business circumstances resulting from the sudden and dramatic effects of the coronavirus outbreak, the declaration of a national emergency and the drop in oil prices on our business and client’s operations, Doyon Drilling will be demobilizing its rig fleet on the Alaska North Slope and conducting layoffs,” Ron Wilson, the company’s president, wrote in the notice.

Doyon officials did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

Other major oil-field service companies have already notified the state of more than 250 layoffs, and one of Alaska’s major producers, ConocoPhillips, announced Thursday that it’s cutting daily production in half, to 100,000 barrels from 200,000, in June.

Related: ‘The first glance at what’s coming’: Oilfield service companies alert state of more than 250 layoffs

A global crash in demand for oil tied to the pandemic has caused the price of the commodity to plummet: Alaska North Slope crude was as high as $57 a barrel in February, before falling to $13 on Thursday.

Doyon said last month that its workers had already been “severely” affected by a decision by ConocoPhillips to suspend the company’s drilling program.

The company operates eight drilling rigs and has “over 300 employees,” according to its website. Doyon Ltd.’s oil-field service business — which includes Doyon Drilling and three other subsidiaries — generated $126 million in revenues in 2018, according to the company’s annual report.