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Newfoundland and Labrador government pressed on North Atlantic refinery’s future

Department of Industry, Energy and Technology working hard to secure future for Come By Chance facility, says minister Lloyd Parrott

Andrew Parsons was to meet Tuesday evening with mayors of communities that would be most impacted should the Come By Chance oil refinery in Newfoundland and Labrador shut down for good.

The minister of Industry, Energy and Technology said government is doing all it can to help the company find a buyer and secure the future of the facility.

Right now the refinery is in “warm idle” mode while the owner — Silverpeak, an American investment firm that owns North Atlantic Refining Ltd. and the refinery — continues to search for a buyer or investor.

The $16.6-million funding agreement — made between the province and the company in January — is in effect until the end of June unless the refinery is restarted or sold before then.

The agreement was meant to keep up to 200 full-time equivalent positions at the refinery covering 75 per cent of labour costs and 50 per cent of costs associated with the warm idle and restart preparation work while it remains offline.

The refinery shut down last year amid a rapid decline in demand for petroleum products due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the House of Assembly on Tuesday, Opposition members questioned Parsons on the status of the refinery.

“Uncertainty continues to swirl around the Come By Chance refinery,” said PC MHA for Terra Nova Lloyd Parrott.

“Just a couple months ago the current owner Silverpeak registered a new company that industry sources say would reduce the refinery to a storage and distribution terminal. Can the minister confirm if this is true and what is the current status of the refinery?”

Parsons said the funding agreement provides hope for the refinery’s future.

“I’m very proud to say that right now the agreement we signed with Silverpeak to ensure that the Come By Chance oil refinery would remain in warm idle is functioning right now,” he said.

The employment levels are there as well as the investment level, and we continue to work towards a new investment. There was a part of that funding agreement to ensure due diligence towards a new buyer.

“I speak to the union on a weekly basis, and they are happy with the commitment made and we continue to work towards a bright future. This is not a provincial asset, this is an asset owned by a company that we have a vested interest in.”

PC MHA for Harbour Main, Helen Conway Ottenheimer, said she continues to hear from worried people in her district about the future of the refinery.

“The workers are worried about the uncertainty of their livelihood and families are fearing for their futures,” she said. “They need news, information. As the months pass by they need and deserve to know what’s going on.”

Parsons said the union is updated on a regular basis so the workers should be aware of any information available to them.

“I speak on a very regular basis, as do staff, with the union which represents the workers of that refinery. We speak to them all the time. They are more than free to disclose the information to their members of which they are privy to,” the minister said. “I’m speaking (Tuesday night) in a meeting with all the mayors of the communities affected. We have a contract that brings us to the end of June.

“I’m like everybody else, I would’ve liked to have seen this solved nine months ago, but we cannot do that. It is not our deal to sign. We need to rely on investment from outside.”

Source: Saltwire | This text was excerpted from the media outlet cited on April 21, 2021 and is provided to Noia members for information purposes only. Any opinion expressed therein is neither attributable to nor endorsed by Noia.