By Liz Hampton
(Reuters) - U.S. oilfield services firm Halliburton on Wednesday said it was cutting 650 jobs across Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and North Dakota amid slowing oil and gas activity.
Halliburton and its rivals that provide drilling equipment and services have suffered this year due to reduced spending by oil and gas producers amid weak prices. Spending by U.S. independent producers is projected to fall 11% this year, according to analysts at Cowen and Co.
"Making this decision was not easy, nor taken lightly, but unfortunately it was necessary as we work to align our operations to reduced customer activity," said spokeswoman Emily Mir by email.
Most of the affected employees were given the option to relocate to jobs in other locales where more business is anticipated, she said.
The cuts are in addition to an 8% North American workforce reduction that Halliburton announced earlier this year. The Houston-based company was the third largest oilfield services firm by revenue last quarter, behind Schlumberger and GE's Baker Hughes, and the largest provider of hydraulic fracking fleets.
The number of active U.S. hydraulic fracturing fleets, which release oil trapped in shale rock, has tumbled to 365, the lowest since spring 2017, energy consultancy Primary Vision said in a note on Wednesday. It estimates as many as 60 more fleets could be idled before the end of the year.
Of the latest cuts, 178 were in Mesa County in western Colorado, according to a filing with the state's Department of Labor and Employment.
Halliburton will report its third-quarter earnings on Oct. 21. The company is anticipated to report earnings of 35 cents per share, down from 50 cents per share the same quarter last year, according to data from Refinitiv IBES.
Its shares were off a fraction at $18.18 in midday trading on Wednesday. The stock has lost 29% of its value since the year began.
(Reporting by Liz Hampton; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Cynthia Osterman)