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[OTAWWA] Nexen Energy announced on Tuesday it is laying off 400 workers, or 12 per cent of its workforce, in North America and Britain in response to the drop in oil prices.
In a statement, the wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary of China's state-owned CNOOC Limited said most of the jobs would be eliminated in Canada and the United States, as well as a few dozen in Britain linked to its operations in the North Sea.
Chief executive Fang Zhi said the move was a necessary "response to the recent industry downturn that has affected all companies in the energy sector" and forced Nexen to reduce capital spending.
CNOOC purchased Nexen in 2012 for US$15 billion. It was one of the last foreign state-owned companies to be allowed by Ottawa to take over a Canadian energy company.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper cautioned at the time that his government would henceforth block attempts by foreign state-owned companies to buy controlling interests in firms operating in the Alberta oil sands.
Nexen has concessions in Canada's oil sands, Britain's North Sea, Nigeria, the Gulf of Mexico and Colombia.
Its jobs cut announcement comes after oil prices plunged more than 50 percent since June.
Others including Suncor and Shell also slashed jobs in Canada recently.
According to the government statistical agency, 20,000 jobs have been shed in Canada's oil sands since September 2014.