Thursday 27 October 2016

Canadian firm agrees deal for Cork-based Whitegate oil refinery

Published 03/08/2016 | 13:14

The Whitegate Refinery – the only one in the State – in Cork
The Whitegate Refinery – the only one in the State – in Cork

A Canadian oil firm has agreed a deal to purchase Whitegate Oil refinery in Cork from its US owners.

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Irving Oil confirmed it has reached agreement with Houston-based Phillips 66 to acquire Whitegate for an undisclosed sum.

The east Cork plant currently has a workforce of 160. The refinery’s future had been in doubt for some time given indications from the US firm that it wanted to sell-off the plant.

Phillipps 66 had invested more than €120m in the refinery but had deemed the Cork plant to be surplus to their requirements. The US firm confirmed earlier this year that there was “significant interest” in their Irish facility.

Irving Oil, which operates the largest oil refinery in Canada, said it views Whitegate as a key element in expanding their business in Europe. The processing facility is capable of handling 75,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

It can also handle other fuels such as kerosene, diesel and home heating oil. Built in 1959, Whitegate is Ireland’s only major oil refinery and for decades has been considered a national strategic asset by government.

 Irving Oil chairman, Arthur Irving, said they were delighted with the deal.

“We are pleased to have signed an agreement to purchase the Whitegate refinery,” he said. “It’s a good day for our company and we’re looking forward to welcoming the Whitegate team to Irving Oil.”

Sale conditions are now being concluded and the deal is set to be formally closed by the year’s third quarter. Irving said it intends to continue full operation of the Whitegate plant and the maintenance of its existing workforce.

“We are delighted to be pursuing an acquisition that feels so natural for us,” Irving Oil president Ian Whitcomb said.

“The Whitegate refinery has a tremendous reputation as a vital and secure supplier to the Irish market, and we will uphold that commitment very proudly and very seriously.”

Irving Oil said it had been deeply impressed by Whitegate and its Irish workforce. The Canadian company said that the Irish plant had an operational track record that made it a perfect fit for their future development plans.

Irving Oil was founded in 1924 and has been family owned since then. The firm operates the largest oil refinery in Canada at Saint John which is roughly five times the size of Whitegate.

The bulk of their operations are in Canada and the US north east with more than 900 fueling locations spread across Canada’s Atlantic coast as well as Quebec and the New England states of the US.

Cork politicians have welcomed assurances that Whitegate’s full workforce will be maintained.

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