The round of job cuts at Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), one of the world’s largest crude producers, should come as no surprise for followers of the global oil sector over the past two years.

MEED revealed on 15 May that Adnoc plans to reduce its headcount by 5,000 by the end of the year from a total workforce of about 55,000.

With no obligation to shareholders, national oil companies (NOCs) in the Middle East tend not to announce major job cuts, but news from publicly-listed companies suggest that a 10 per cent workforce reduction is in line with global oil sector trends.

BP announced in February that it was cutting 7,000 jobs after swinging to an annual loss of $5.2bn for 2015. The UK-based oil major’s website says it has 79,800 employees.

Meanwhile, Denmark’s Maersk Oil shed 1,250 employees in 2015 from a total workforce of about 4,500, according to reports in October.

Other NOCs in the Middle East are likely to be looking to tighten personnel budgets as oil revenues remain under half of what companies were pulling in during the four years up to the crude price crash in the second half of 2014.

Details of job cuts by NOCs have been slim. Qatar Petroleum (QP) announced in June 2015 that it had reduced staff numbers and decided to exit all non-core businesses without providing details. It has been estimated that more than 25 per cent of QP’s then 14,000-strong workforce were made redundant.

The Kuwaiti oil sector’s decision to cut employee wages resulted in widespread strikes across its operating companies, resulting in plunging oil, gas and refining output for three days in April.

Staff numbers at NOCs in the region have increased considerably, especially during the boom in crude prices between 2011 and 2014. UAE consultancy Gulf Intelligence estimates that Adnoc’s total staff has doubled over the last decade, creating congestion in middle management.

Positions at companies like Adnoc, QP and Saudi Aramco are highly sought-after by graduates in their respective countries, and NOCs in the region have policies to promote the employment and training of local citizens. This will likely remain a focus as executives look where they can cut costs.

Job cuts at Adnoc will focus on expatriate workers, sources have told MEED. This will likely result in large numbers of highly-paid employees leaving the country having a knock-on effect on the wider Abu Dhabi economy, which is already feeling the impact of lower crude prices.