BP has announced plans to cut 4,000 jobs worldwide, with most of the positions being at its North Sea operations.

As part of the plans, 600 jobs in the North Sea would be reduced over a period of two years. Most of the job cuts are expected to take place in 2016.

The company said that all the job losses would occur in its oil exploration and production business.

Reuters quoted BP spokesman saying: "We want to simplify structure and reduce costs without compromising safety.

"We want to simplify structure and reduce costs without compromising safety."

"Globally, we expect the headcount in upstream to be below 20,000 by the end of the year."

The company currently has a workforce of 80,000 across the globe and the latest job losses represent around 5% of its workforce.

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In the UK alone, BP employs around 3,000 people and plans to invest around $4bn in 2016.

BP said in a statement: "Given the well-documented challenges of operating in this maturing region and in toughening market conditions, we need to take specific steps to ensure our business remains competitive and robust."

"An inevitable outcome of this will be an impact on headcount and we expect a reduction of around 600 staff and agency contractor roles by the end of 2017, with the majority of these taking place this year."

The company’s latest move is expected to affect its staff and contractors working in Aberdeen, Sullom Voe in Shetland, and Grangemouth.

In recent years, the energy firm has already sold more than $50bn of assets to cover the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill costs and expects an additional $3bn-$5bn of divestments in 2016.