HALIFAX -- Hundreds of Irving Oil employees have found themselves suddenly out of work.

Irving Oil will be laying off 250 workers, citing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number amounts to roughly six per cent of the New Brunswick-based company’s workforce across operations in Canada, the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

“Today, we have shared with our employees the difficult decision to significantly reduce our workforce in light of the current economic challenges we face,” said President Ian Whitcomb and Executive Vice-President Sarah Irving in a statement on the company’s website.

“The challenges that we face in our business and our industry are unlike any we have ever experienced. Like many other organizations, we hoped to avoid this outcome as we worked hard to keep our business secure through the extreme challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is the last decision we wanted to make and to all those impacted, we are sorry.”

No other details were released, including how many Canadian workers will be affected by the cuts.

According to Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long, who says he spoke with company executives Wednesday morning, Saint John is bearing the brunt of the layoffs.

"It is 180 jobs in Saint John in this area," Long said. "It's devastating news for the community. It's a sad, dark day. Certainly my heart goes out to the employees that have lost their jobs and their families."

The company says it is focused on supporting employees who are being let go.

"The economic impacts of COVID and this pandemic are real," Long said. "It certainly hit home to us today with these layoffs and certainly I will, we will do whatever we can to help people transition to new careers and new jobs."

Dan McTeague of of the group Canadians For Affordable Energy says the announcement "speaks to the much larger issue that the pandemic still continues to ravage markets and mostly important demand for products like gasoline, like diesel, like jet fuel."

CTV News reached out to Irving Oil for an interview for more information but did not hear back before time of publishing.