Oil refinery rescue scheme launched
THE Government has launched a rescue plan for the only oil refinery in the country.
Whitegate refinery in Co Cork processes a third of Ireland's petroleum supplies and is a strategically important asset.
Last month, however, its owner, Texan firm Phillips 66, revealed plans to sell it, and analysts warned it would be difficult to find a buyer.
Whitegate needs modernisation, and few potential buyers are thought willing to spend the kind of money needed to bring it up to date.
Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte said yesterday that having a functioning refinery "provides flexibility, enhancing the options available in the event of an oil supply disruption by providing an alternative source of product, thus mitigating a complete reliance on product imports".
"As such, the continued operation of the Whitegate refinery is highly desirable," he added.
The Government will now consult with the Irish oil industry and "appropriate public bodies" to find a way to save the business.
Mr Rabbitte was speaking at the launch of a government-commissioned report into the future of oil refining in Ireland.
The report, a 'Study of the Strategic Case for Oil Refining Requirements on the Island of Ireland', found that the "existing oil import facilities on the island of Ireland, taken as a whole, offer a robust infrastructure that would provide comfortable alternatives in the event of a serious disruption at any of the six oil ports".