Thursday, August 8th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Despite all the good news last week, Williams Companies still faces many challenges.

The company sent out letters to the 330 workers in its energy trading unit Thursday, warning that a third of them will likely be laid off.

News on Six business reporter Steve Berg says virtually all of Williams problems can be traced to the Energy Marketing and Trading unit, or EMT as they call it. It’s basically the only department that's losing money, and it's losing a "lot" of money.

The company is pursuing two possible solutions. But they warn both of them include layoffs. Number one, they're looking for a partner for their energy-trading unit, preferably a company with an investment grade credit rating, something Williams doesn't have. Or number two; they will sell part or "all" of their energy-trading portfolio. So about 100 jobs in Tulsa are in jeopardy, possibly more.

Williams also says it will close its London trading office. That's another 70 jobs. And a small handful of jobs in Houston will also be affected. It's a painful process, but it's absolutely vital for the EMT unit to start making money. Because right now, it's dragging the rest of the company down.