- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
First Minister Carwyn Jones has confirmed that talks are continuing to find a buyer for the closure-threatened Murco oil refinery in Milford Haven and safeguard hundreds of ‘irreplaceable’ jobs.
At Assembly question time on Tuesday (6 May), Joyce Watson AM asked for an update on discussions between potential buyers and the Murco Refinery Task Force, the group working to prevent closure.
The Labour member for Mid and West Wales also asked what lessons could be learnt from the closure of the Coryton refinery in Essex, which ceased production two years ago.
Mrs Watson, a member of the Assembly’s Enterprise and Business committee, said:
“As part of the ongoing discussions between the Welsh and UK Governments on the taskforce and through other channels, what discussions have there been about the lessons from the Coryton refinery in Essex?
“When that was allowed to close in 2012 it cost businesses and the community in that area an estimated £589 million.”
Mr Jones confirmed that discussions with potential buyers are continuing; the aim is to secure the future of the refinery, he said:
“There are 300 jobs in the refinery. The average salary is £50,000. None of us could possibly allow ourselves to believe that those jobs could be replaced either in the short term or the medium term, which is why the refinery is so important.
“A number of discussions are still ongoing. We will continue to work to make sure that the refinery has a viable future.
“We will continue to work with any potential buyers and with the current owners to make sure that that future is realised.
The Murco Refinery Task Force led by Lord Bourne, held its first meeting on 15 April. Economy Minister Edwina Hart has instructed the group to engage partners in high-level discussions to support the company in maintaining the future of refinery operations at the site.
The First Minister continued:
“It is not the case, as far as Murco is concerned, that it needs a substantial amount of investment in order to be profitable. The investment has been made, so it is in that fortunate position.
“The difficulty is that there is overcapacity in the refining market. Much more oil is now refined close to the source of the oil in the middle east, for example.
“There are certainly other refineries in Europe that are not as state of the art as Murco, which, in the normal course of events, would probably have closed first. So, the point that we wish to make to any potential buyer is that Murco is certainly a going concern. It is not a plant that needs a huge of amount of investment for it to be profitable in future, and that is why we believe that it has a future as long as there is an agreement between the current owners and any potential buyers.”