EQT headquarters

Observer-Reporter

EQT headquarters in Pittsburgh

EQT Corp., the nation’s largest independent natural gas producer, has laid off nearly one-fourth of its workforce.

In a news release, the Pittsburgh-based driller confirmed late Tuesday afternoon that it laid off 196 of its 800 employees. EQT said it “is streamlining its business to improve operational effectiveness and create a more efficient and nimbler organization.” The company said the downsizing includes dropping from 58 departments to 15.

The layoffs, EQT said, will save about $50 million of annual general and administrative costs.

EQT has undergone significant changes over the past year. Chief executive officer Toby Z. Rice launched a proxy battle last October, one that became public in December after EQT announced miserable third-quarter results. He and his brother, Derek, nominated seven new candidates for the board, who were approved in a shareholders vote at the company’s annual meeting in July. Toby Rice then was elected CEO.

The Rices and a third brother, Danny, who was on the 12-member board before the July vote, founded Rice Energy – an oil and gas firm – in 2008. EQT bought Southpointe-based Rice Energy in November 2017. Before the sale, Danny Rice was CEO, Toby, chief operating officer, and Derek, vice president of exploration.

Toby Rice said in a statement Tuesday that this “action represents another significant milestone as we transform EQT into a modern, technology-driven and efficient natural gas producer.

“I’d like to thank those employees who are leaving for their contributions to EQT. We firmly believe this is a step we must take to create a more efficient organization and to enable our employees to succeed.”

EQT focuses its gas operations in the Appalachian Basin, operating mostly in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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