BP set to cut jobs in Asia-industry source

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LONDON, Oct 3 (Reuters) BP Plc is set to cut jobs in Asia, an industry source said on Wednesday, as the British oil giant braces for weak third quarter results.

''It is likely to be announced in a next week or two,'' said the source, based in Asia and familiar with BP operations. ''That is related to the things reported by media.'' The source did not know if oil traders would be affected or in which parts of Asia the axe might fall.

In September, the Financial Times reported that BP's Chief Executive Tony Hayward had told staff that the oil giant's performance in the third-quarter was ''dreadful'' and that he planned a shake-up to improve operations.

A BP spokesman in London said Hayward was looking at ''the complexity of business,'' but declined to comment on any possible Asian job losses.

BP in Asia handles most of its crude and oil product trading business from Singapore, Japan and Australia. It is also involved with upstream oil and gas production operations in many part of Southeast Asia and Oceania.

Several years ago, French major Total streamlined its operations in Asia, closing its crude oil trading business in Tokyo.

Even before the possible job cuts in Asia, BP has lost several dozen oil traders globally in recent years.

Traders, who used to work for BP in Europe and Asia, have said they had left the company because they were dissatisfied by salaries and bonuses compared to banks and independents in the sector.

Hayward said at the company's second quarter earnings that BP was not matching exceptionally high pay deals offered to lure away traders.

BP has been long known for its aggressive trading style, but analysts say it has eased back due to probes in the United States related to trading practice and a fatal refinery explosion.

BP's third-quarter performance was expected to be hit by outages at three of its five U.S. refineries, lower refining margins, lower North Sea production due to a ruptured pipeline and project delays.

Hayward last month also said that BP's recent poor share price performance was the worst since 1992-93.

REUTERS PBB KP2037

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