July 7 (Reuters) - British oil and gas explorer Ophir Energy's Chief Operating Officer William Higgs will step down as the company reduces costs by cutting staff positions at its London headquarters, the company said on Friday.
Energy companies have cut costs over the past few years due to a fall in oil prices. Ophir has faced further challenges in launching its Fortuna project in Equatorial Guinea - Africa's first deepwater floating liquefaction facility.
"The company has no plans to appoint another chief operating officer or executive director (and) a further announcement will be made shortly," Ophir said in a brief statement after markets closed on Friday.
A spokesperson for the company, which has projects in Africa and East Asia, declined to say when Higgs would leave the company and what other staff cuts were being made.
Higgs, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment via LinkedIn, was appointed COO in 2014, having previously worked for Chevron Corp.
Ophir also has offices in eight other cities and employed 288 people at the end of December last year.
Ophir's shares, which closed down 4.5 percent at 79 pence on Friday, have lost nearly 14 percent since April 2016, when Schlumberger ended talks to take a 40 percent economic interest in the Fortuna FLNG project. Schlumberger is now in a joint venture with shipping company Golar LNG, which will build and deliver the FLNG vessel.
Ophir said in May it planned to borrow $1.2 billion from Chinese banks to develop Fortuna, which is estimated to have production capacity of 2.2 million tonnes per year and a start-up in 2020.
The company is due to give a trading update on July 12. (Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; editing by Susan Thomas and Elaine Hardcastle)