Concerns about Come By Chance’s idling oil refinery could be allayed as the facility was bought by US private equity firm Cresta Fund Management, a union representative confirmed on Tuesday.
The company – which bought a majority stake in the refining plant – plans to convert the refinery to make renewable aviation fuel and diesel from used cooking oil, corn oil and animal fat.United Steelworkers Local 9316 president Glenn Nolan told CBC News his union represents 335 refinery workers and said the deal would likely save hundreds of jobs, but not all. If no agreement was reached, the facility faced permanent closure.
“This is great news because at the end of the day there was no one else around from what we heard. It would have stopped, ”Nolan said.
“We have something now in our province and this is good news for the workers. “
In an emailed statement to CBC News, Energy Minister Andrew Parsons said the sale was a tentative deal between the owners North Atlantic Refining Limited Partnership and Cresta.
Parsons said the facility is a great asset to the province.
“Our government has done and will continue to do everything in its power to work with all stakeholders to secure its long-term future,” he said.
Nolan said there was a round of applause from workers as the announcement was made at a meeting on Tuesday. He said he didn’t know how much the deal is worth or how much Cresta owns.
“The workers are very excited and there are a lot of calls from laid-off workers, so I hope this is an opportunity for them,” he said.
“There is a lot of optimism right now. Before, a lot of people were pretty depressed. This is something new and it will give a job opportunity for a long time. It’s the future. “
CBC News has requested an interview with Cresta Fund Management.
The new facility is expected to produce 14,000 barrels of renewable fuel per day by mid-2022, Nolan said, which is lower than the facility’s previous production rate of 130,000 barrels of fossil fuel per day.
Nolan said he expects more than 200 people to work at the converted refinery initially. He said others could find work in later phases as the refinery has the potential to expand.
“It will be a different type of installation. It will be a smaller facility. A lot of units won’t work, ”he said.
“The first phase will be a few hundred jobs, not counting the engineering and the redevelopment they would have to do on the maintenance side to switch from fossil fuel to renewable. “
The Come By Chance facility was owned by North Atlantic Refinery Limited. North Atlantic had been looking for a new owner since last year when a purchase agreement with Irving Oil collapsed.
In January, the provincial government announced $ 16.6 million in public funds for the North Atlantic refinery to keep the plant open in idle mode, which allowed some employees to continue working while the owners were looking for a buyer.
“The government has done a lot of hard work behind the scenes that we have been involved with. It paid off, ”Nolan said.
“Now let’s hope that we will be the first of its kind in Canada on this type of refining. It’s a start, this is how the world changes.
Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador