Williams Companies has announced to its employees it will reduce its North American staff by 10 percent this year. Williams employs approximately 6,700 U.S. employees.

Williams Company gathers, processes and transfers natural gas and has been headquartered in Tulsa for nearly a century. It has been publicly traded since 1957. In recent years, Williams diversified its interests into telecommunications by running fiber optic cables through decommissioned pipelines.

According to the Tulsa Chamber, Williams employs more than a thousand people at its headquarters in the Williams Center downtown.

Williams offered this statement on Friday:

"These difficult decisions come as part of the company’s 2016 business plan, which aligns the company’s future growth with the realities of the current energy market. 

The company began implementing a variety of cost reduction initiatives in the first quarter of 2016. Overall, the employment reductions are expected to affect approximately 10 percent of Williams total workforce across North America. Some areas, especially those focused on supporting growth in the supply basins where we are seeing pull back in growth opportunities, will likely be more affected than others.

The reductions will be communicated to affected employees in late March and into the early part of the second quarter of 2016. The company will provide severance, including benefits and outplacement services, to affected employees. The reductions are focused solely on sustaining Williams’ future growth and not related to the proposed merger with Energy Transfer Equity."

In recent months, the company has been in the spotlight for its proposed merger with a Dallas-based energy company.

At the time of the $37 billion buyout, Williams expected it would reduce its staff. It now says the layoff is not related to that proposed merger.