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Ron Ness, left, moderates a panel of Bakken CEOs on the topic "What's Next for the Williston Basin?" in May 2018. Seated from left, are, Thomas Nusz, chairman and CEO of Oasis Petroleum, Erec Isaacson, vice president of Rockies Business Unit, ConocoPhillips, and Brad Holly, president and CEO of Whiting Petroleum. 

Whiting Petroleum Corp., an oil producer with wells in North Dakota, announced Tuesday that it had cut 254 jobs.

It’s unclear how many of those positions are in the state, and a company spokeswoman declined to offer further comment beyond a statement.

The Denver-based company operates primarily in the Bakken and Three Forks, as well as in the Niobrara shale play of northeast Colorado. State data shows that Whiting has more than 1,500 active oil and gas wells in North Dakota, and the company says it added 50 wells in the Williston Basin during the second quarter of the year.

The job losses represent one-third of Whiting’s workforce. The company said 94 of the jobs were executive or corporate positions.

The cuts come as an effort to save costs, and they are part of a companywide restructuring, Whiting President, Chairman and CEO Bradley Holly said in the statement.

“The decision to reduce headcount is always a difficult one as it impacts talented colleagues and friends, but it is a necessary step in our company’s transformation,” he said. “I want to express my sincere appreciation for the employees affected by today’s announcement and their many contributions to Whiting.”

The company said it was restructuring “to better align Whiting’s business with the current operating environment and drive long term value.”

The restructuring involves redesigning the company’s organization and implementing new technologies in the oil and gas fields, among other initiatives.

Whiting estimates the changes will save the company $50 million annually.

The oil producer’s announcement coincided with the quarterly release of its financial results.

“In the face of highly volatile commodity prices and a constrained gas infrastructure market in North Dakota, we are taking strong measures to improve our margins,” Holly said.

As oil production has climbed in recent months, the energy industry in North Dakota has faced a lack of pipeline and processing infrastructure to handle natural gas.

Whiting said infrastructure constraints and related operating delays caused the company to drop its oil production by 3,000 barrels per day to 82,000 barrels per day during its second quarter. It expects the constraints to continue through the rest of the year.

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(Reach Amy R. Sisk at 701-250-8252 or amy.sisk@bismarcktribune.com.)

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