DESPITE concerns that the Murco Milford Haven refinery is at risk of closure, the Western Telegraph understands there are still buyers interested.
A report in the Sunday Times claimed American oil refinery bosses had hinted at its closure, classing it as a ‘discontinued operation’ in its accounts, and had ‘slashed its value’.
This sparked concerned Assembly Members to contact the Minister for the Economy, Science and Transport Edwina Hart to find out what discussions she had had with the company.
Murco’s owners, Murphy Oil, denied in November that it was closing the site after failing to find a buyer but it had been previously revealed that if a buyer was not found it would consider turning it into a storage facility.
The refinery employs around 400 people and has been up for sale for more than three years.
Murco confirmed to the Western Telegraph this week that the sale process was 'actively progressing'.
Rebecca Evans AM, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, said: “This is deeply concerning. The accounts, filed in America, show Milford Haven representing a loss to the company of $105 million for the last quarter of 2013.
“Murphy Oil has said that it expects to complete the “disposition” of the refinery at Milford Haven by the end of the year. I am seeking urgent clarity from the company as to what that means.
“Assurances were given in November that the refinery would not close – and yet three months later the company is talking about 'disposition'. If disposition means a sale, then that could be positive as it would end a protracted period of uncertainty for the 400 strong workforce. However, if disposition means closure, then that would be a devastating and terrible blow to Milford Haven and the surrounding area.”
A Murco spokesman said: "Murco Petroleum Limited (Murco) can confirm that the sales process by Murphy Oil Corporation of Murco’s UK Downstream business continues and it is actively progressing the sale process.
"The Milford Haven Refinery continues with safe reliable operations in a difficult market environment. The UK retail marketing business continues to perform well and delivered one of its best year end results on record in 2013."
Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb said he remained confident that the refinery had a positive future.
“The Murco site has played an important role in the Pembrokeshire economy for 40 years and we all want to see a successful sale which guarantees the jobs of the many local people who work there.
“Nothing has changed in the past days or weeks to put a question mark over that sale. What we are seeing is a very normal commercial process in which Murphy Oil and a preferred buyer are negotiating over a deal; this takes time.
“The crucial thing is for the plant to be sold as a complete refinery to safeguard all those local jobs."