Insiders and leaked audio reveal new details of job cuts at Exxon

Insiders and leaked audio reveal new details of job cuts at Exxon
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Welcome to Power Line, a weekly energy newsletter brought to you by Business Insider.


Here's what you need to know:

And there goes July. That was a fun month. Not really.

Last week, we reported on a change Exxon made to its employee ranking process amid an oil price collapse. This week, we dug in a bit more, uncovering documents and audio files. We also talked to 20 current and former employees, including people with direct knowledge of the process.

Here's what we learned.


Exxon is forcing managers to rank thousands of employees as poor performers, in an effort to push them out

In case you missed it, we're in a pretty severe oil price downturn. That's why big oil companies like BP, Chevron, and Schlumberger are laying off loads of employees — more than 35,000 combined.

  • Price check: Today, the cost of crude is about $40 a barrel, down about 34%, since the start of the year.

Exxon has taken a different approach. The company is relying on performance-based cuts.

  • Employees ranked as poor performers are effectively forced out of the company.
  • This year, Exxon told managers to rank as many as 10% of workers in that category, up from a minimum of 3% before the downturn.
  • Newer employees could be hit with bigger cuts. Staff overseas are impacted as well, though the extent of those cuts isn't clear.
  • We have lots of details on how the process is working here.

It's clear from leaked audio and comments from supervisors that not everyone ranked in the bottom was, in fact, a poor performer.

Read the full story here.

If you're a current or former Exxon employee and have information to share, you can reach me at or through the confidential messaging up Signal at 646-768-1657.


3 things smart people told us this week

Lee Jourdan, Chevron's chief diversity officer: "It's a challenge determining how transparent you're going to be about demographic data," he said.

Jigar Shah, Generate Capital's cofounder and president: "I'm more bullish than ever," Shah said, about clean energy.

  • "We're going to have 10% unemployment rates for a long time, and that's devastating. The only way to solve that problem is to have real fiscal stimulus from the government to fix it."
  • "The only thing that everyone knows how to fix is climate change. What can we construct right away? It's climate solutions. That's what we're ready to construct and scale."

Emily Reichert, Greentown Labs' CEO: "A lot of people in my industry were very worried when all of this started happening in March, that it would really knock us off course in terms of how corporations and investors and others are thinking about" clean energy funding, she said.

This week's top stories

  • Earnings: Shell and Total saw earnings tumble, as expected, but both European oil majors still made money, largely thanks to their little-known oil trading businesses, per Axios. Meanwhile, Exxon and Chevron reported "the worst losses in a generation," according to Bloomberg News
  • Sustainability commitments: A closer look at Apple's ambitions to become carbon neutral by 2030. (Bloomberg)
  • Rooftop solar: Elon Musk said Tesla sells the cheapest solar in the country, but at what cost? (Greentech Media)
  • Big Oil backs clean tech: Oilfield services giant Halliburton, among the companies hit hard by the oil-price downturn, is opening a new lab devoted to clean-energy technologies. (Houston Chronicle)

That's it! If you've got any feedback on this newsletter, please send it my way at Have a great weekend.

- Benji


Ps. This is a lil praying mantis I saw last night. I love them. Watch out, boys!

Insiders and leaked audio reveal new details of job cuts at Exxon
Benji Jones