Liberia`s state oil company said Monday it was laying off its entire staff as part of a revamp aimed at saving it from collapse as falling oil prices hit the sector hard.
The National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) said in a statement it was retrenching managers and low-level workers alike as it "cannot afford the administrative and operational bills" and would later rehire staff for a downsized operation.
Some 200 people will be affected by the retrenchments, said a source at the company.
"Despite the best efforts of the board and management to put in place several austerity measures to manage the situation, the continuing crumbling oil prices have severely undermined NOCAL`s capacity to meet its operational and personnel obligations," said the statement.
The company said "restructuring and administrative adjustments will affect every layer of the company including the board and management, and a new recruitment or re-employment exercise will be guided by the highest standards of transparency, with the board having hired an external consultant to carry out the entire process."
NOCAL has been one of the major local contributors to the Liberian budget, as well as the country`s post-war reconstruction program.
Liberia`s oil sector is still emerging, with companies such as US-based Anadarko and energy giant Chevron beginning offshore drilling in recent years.
Hopes were high that oil discoveries would boost Liberia`s economy and rebuilding efforts in the country which was ravaged by a devastating civil war that ended more than a decade ago.
However, falling oil and gas prices have dealt a blow to efforts to develop the sector at a time when the economy has also been devastated by the Ebola epidemic.