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Layoffs began at Halliburton's Duncan plant

DUNCAN, Okla. (AP) _ Oilfield-services company Halliburton began on Thursday the first round of layoffs at its Duncan manufacturing facility.

The Dallas-based company is reducing its work force by 11 percent _ about 105 employees, said spokeswoman Zelma Branch.

Actions to adjust the work force will start immediately and should conclude within two days, Branch said. Standard severance pay will be given to those being dismissed.

Branch said the need for the layoffs was, in part, due to a reduction in the rig count.

The rig count was down to 856 Jan. 11, compared to the earliest projections of 1,006.

Dale Blalock was one of those who lost his job Thursday. He said many were shocked at the announcement.

``It's a headache,'' Blalock, 26, said. ``The older hands said it would happen. The rig count was down and they said they saw it coming.''

Blalock worked in the floating department, where cement is poured daily. He said he wasn't optimistic about founding as good a job as he had with Halliburton.

``There's not many places around here that pay $10 or more for a blue-collar worker,'' he said. ``It was good while it lasted. The oil business is always up and down.''

Workforce Oklahoma has arranged with the Red River Technology Center to use its conference room Monday morning to handle claims from Halliburton employees.

The program will offer information on how to search the Internet for jobs and information on retraining opportunities.

Earlier this month, Halliburton stock hit a 15-year low amid uncertainty about the company's ability to pay looming asbestos claims.

In December, a jury in a Maryland court returned a $30 million verdict against a spinoff of a Halliburton unit. Halliburton has lost three verdicts totaling more than $150 million in recent months.

The company vows to appeal, and its general counsel has said he is confident of reversing or reducing the verdicts.
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