Shell moving 3,400 employees from downtown to west Houston

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- For decades it's been a part of the Downtown Houston skyline. "It's definitely noticed," said a downtown employee. It's One Shell Plaza.

"We refer to it as Shell I and II and it's been here a long time," Downtown worker Mevla Thorton said.

At its completion in 1971, it was the tallest tower in the city. Now, employees who work inside of it, will be moving out of downtown.

"I guess things are tight right now, and we're trying to cut costs where we can," Shell employee named Kevin said. "It's indicative of the oil and gas industry and what's happening with it now."

More than 3,400 workers will move to Woodcreek and Shell Technology Center on the west side early next year. Only those in trading will remain. "The drive to the west side will be a big change for me," Kevin said.

A spokesperson for Shell released this statement:

I wanted to inform you of an announcement made to Shell staff today regarding changes to our real estate portfolio.

In an effort to meet the ever changing market conditions and optimize resources for future opportunities, Shell will move all staff in the Houston Central Business District, with the exception of those in Trading, to Shell-owned facilities on the west side of the city, including both Woodcreek and the Shell Technology Center. The changes will be taken into effect the first quarter of 2017.

Shell values our position and presence in the Houston area - for our ongoing business, offshore and onshore training needs, and long-time relationships in the community. Houston also remains critical to our core business; it's where we have much of our expertise, including engineering and operations support, as well two technology/research centers.

Jody Trantham works in energy downtown and said: "The landscape is changing. It probably will for another a year or two."

The Houston Business Journal broke the story this morning.

"It's a narrative we've grown familiar with," reporter Cara Smith said. Smith reports on commercial real estate for HBJ and says Shell isn't the first energy company to downsize property this year. "I think it shows there is a bit of time left in this downturn in oil. It also shows that the energy companies aren't playing around and it's something that is affecting everybody and affecting the biggest companies."

Shell said in its statement that it "values our position and presence in the Houston area" but that presence won't be in downtown's central business district. "I think it's not a good thing. But Shell has to do what they have to do," said Thorton.
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