May 11 - Conoco Reaches Deal to Close Wilhelmshaven Refinery in Germany

Source Press
Company ConocoPhillips 
Tags Refining & Marketing Activities
Date May 10, 2011

(Bloomberg) ConocoPhillips (COP) reached an agreement to close its Wilhelmshaven refinery, allowing it to convert the northern German facility to an oil storage terminal from June 1, a labor representative said.

The workforce of 406 will be reduced to 48 and the U.S. oil company will pay a total of 15 million euros ($22 million) to employees after making the deal yesterday, Vera Ackermann, district manager for the IG BCE union, said today by phone.

“By the end of this month, we will begin serving notices to employees who will not be required to operate the terminal operations at the site,” Rich Johnson, a ConocoPhillips spokesman based in Houston, said in an e-mail. “We have no plans to dismantle Wilhelmshaven.”

ConocoPhillips said in September last year it would keep the German refinery, the company’s biggest European oil- processing plant, closed following a fire in May. The plant has the capacity to process 260,000 barrels of oil a day, according to  ConocoPhillips’s website. About 102,000 barrels of distillates, a group of fuels including diesel and heating oil, and 36,000 barrels of gasoline are produced daily.

The labor union representative said she still “hopes” the facility can continue to operate as a refinery via a sale to an investor. “We are continuing to actively work on a sale of Wilhelmshaven,” Johnson said in the e-mail.

A Saudi Arabian foundation may bid together with German businessman Carsten Hippenstiel for the refinery, broadcaster NDR reported on its website this month.

The prospective buyer, who has links to the Saudi king, is keen to process Saudi crude at the site and is pushing for talks with ConocoPhillips, NDR said, citing Thomas Reiter, a spokesman for the group. Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) is advising  ConocoPhillips on the sale, Johnson said.

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporter, said May 8 that it doesn’t plan to join a group to buy the facility.

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