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FARMINGTON — An undisclosed number of employees at the Farmington Halliburton Co. facility on East Main Street were laid off by the company this week.

Company spokesman William Fitzgerald confirmed the terminations in an emailed statement on Thursday.

"Halliburton has made adjustments to its workforce in Farmington based on current business conditions," Fitzgerald said in the email. "Halliburton will continue to monitor the business environment and will adjust the size of our workforce to align with current business demands as needed."

Fitzgerald declined to answer any further questions about the layoffs, including the number of employees who have been fired, when Halliburton employees were let go or whether the layoffs were limited to San Juan County or were part of a company-wide reduction in personnel.

Fitzgerald said that he would not divulge reasons or specifics about the layoffs because doing so would make the company vulnerable to its competition.

"We value every employee we have, but unfortunately, we are faced with the difficult reality that reductions are necessary to work through this challenging market environment," Fitzgerald said. "Details of specific businesses and the number of employees is competitive information and therefore unavailable."

Founded in 1919, Halliburton, according to its website, halliburton.com, is one of the largest oilfield service companies in the world, with more than 75,000 employees in more than 80 countries.

Four Corners Economic Development CEO Ray Hagerman said he had not heard the news directly, but he said any loss of area workers is unfortunate.

"It's never good to hear about layoffs," Hagerman said when reached by phone Thursday. "It's just another sign of what low oil prices will do to our local economy. Those (workers) are our friends, and we're doing everything we can to replace those jobs and get those people into new ones."

Hagerman said the layoffs likely were tied to the news that crude oil prices dropped below $40 a barrel on the commodities market this month.

He also said Halliburton's plans to acquire the oilfield service company Baker Hughes Incorporated by Dec. 1 may have impacted the layoffs.

"I don't know how much (of the layoffs) is consolidation after the Baker Hughes purchase," he said. "You can also look at companies that are involved and take a look at their stock prices as yet another indicator, but who knows?"

Wally Drangmeister, spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, said in a phone interview on Thursday that the news of the layoffs can be seen as a direct result of a double whammy from low oil and gas prices on the commodities market and increased costs in a tighter regulatory environment.

"The financial pressures caused by lower commodities prices are extreme for oil and natural gas prices," Drangmeister said. "That's why the industry is so focused on the additional regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Land Management. Any additional costs in this current market place environment is going to be felt in a strong way. What we do have control over is our operating costs and procedures. But added regulations are unduly costly to our industry that leads to less development, less oil and gas drilled and the potential for shutting in oil and natural gas wells. As oil prices have gone down, there's real pressure on companies to manage their costs."

James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 and jfenton@daily-times.com. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.

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