L&T fires 340 after messing up Exxon contract

Vol 23, PW 17 (02 Jul 20) People & Policy

More than 300 young geoscience engineers have been made redundant by Larsen & Toubro subsidiary L&T Technology Services (LTTS) after it failed to deliver on a contract for US oil giant ExxonMobil.

Baroda-based LTTS released the last batch of 70 engineers on June 30 from its sprawling headquarters on the Ahmedabad to Mumbai highway. In total, BSE-listed LTTS issued 'pink slips' to 340 engineers in stages from August 2019 after the company failed to deliver a $20m contract with US giant ExxonMobil won on April 9 (2018).

Under the contract, ExxonMobil asked LTTS to create an online database using historical geoscience data spanning 110 years from 1900 when ExxonMobil carried the name Standard Oil, one of John D Rockefeller's several oil companies. In November 1999, Exxon acquired Mobil, another former Rockefeller company, to form ExxonMobil.

In its contract, ExxonMobil asked LTTS to extract data from billions of pages of scanned documents received from company HQ at Irving in Texas and enter it online. Every month, LLTS received 250,000 scanned documents.

LLTS also drafted in its sister company LTI (L&T) InfoTech to help. But halfway through the contract, problems surfaced with both LTTS and LTI failing to achieve the monthly target of 250,000 documents.

Instead, it completed approximately 200,000 documents/month. Frequent server access problems didn't help, nor did complaints of low accuracy in data entry and database errors.

ExxonMobil invited fresh bids in December (2019).