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Convent Shell announces shutdown process; 698 employees laid off

8 months 4 weeks 1 day ago Monday, December 28 2020 Dec 28, 2020 December 28, 2020 4:00 PM December 28, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

CONVENT - Shell announced on Nov. 5 their plans to begin shuttering its Convent refinery in the coming weeks after it failed to find a buyer for the facility. 

According to a statement from the company, the location will begin the process of shutting down in mid-November. Shell had been looking for a buyer to take to the site since July but has been unsuccessful. 

Shell said the decision to close the refinery is "part of the company’s global strategy to invest in a core set of uniquely integrated manufacturing sites that are also strategically positioned for the transition to a low-carbon future."

The refinery has about 700 employees. Officials said they were ensured workers would keep their jobs through February 2021.

"Since 1967, this refinery has provided economic impact to St. James Parish operating under several different companies over the years," St. James Parish President Pete Dufresne said in a statement Thursday. "The facility has consistently been the largest taxpayer in St. James Parish, therefore its consolidation will certainly have an impact to our community and the supporting businesses who rely on industry."

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing on behalf of Equilon Enterprises LLC d/b/a Shell Oil Products US, a subsidiary of Shell Oil Company (“Shell” or the “Company”) to give you notice that Shell intends to discontinue operations and carry-out the complete planned closure of its Convent Refinery, located at 10700 LA-44, Convent, Louisiana 70723 (the “Convent Refinery”). This closure is expected to be permanent. The shutdown process began in November 2020, with closure anticipated to be
complete on or about August 31, 2021. All local Shell employees providing dedicated support to the Convent Refinery will be impacted by the closure, and are not expected to continue employment with Shell after the shutdown is complete. The number of individuals who are expected to be affected by the Convent Refinery closure is 698 Convent employees. The shutdown will be a phased cessation of operations, but the expected date of the first separation will be effective March 1, 2021, with all separations anticipated to be accomplished on or about August 31, 2021. These anticipated separation dates are based on the best information available to the Company at this time. All affected employees or their Union representative have been or will be notified of their anticipated separation dates, and that their separation from employment will be permanent, as the phased shutdown continues and that information solidifies for the Company. There will not be any bumping rights for the affected employees, that is, employees will not be able to displace more junior employees out of their job positions as a result of the closure. We have notified Eric Roy, the chief elected official of Local 750 for the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber Manufacturing, Energy, Allied-Industrial and Service Workers International Union, of this information at the following address: P.O. Box 337, Norco, LA 70079.

Sincerely,

Alana Wierzchowski, Human Resources Consultant

Governor Edwards released a statement saying:

“We are disappointed to learn that Shell’s Convent Refinery in St. James Parish will be closing in the near future. This is a difficult decision for Shell and a challenging time for the company’s 700 Convent employees and their families. The State of Louisiana will support them in every way we can through the Rapid Response Unit of the Louisiana Workforce Commission and through prioritized placement of these talented workers within our state.

“It’s important to note that Shell is reducing the number of standalone refineries companywide in favor of consolidated industrial sites that integrate refining and chemical operations. This decision is not due to a lack of competitiveness on the part of Louisiana’s business climate or workforce, and the company will continue to operate many vital assets here. Shell employs nearly 4,000 people in our state, with a similar number of retirees. Company holdings in Louisiana range from deepwater operations headquartered in New Orleans and conducted offshore, to the Norco refinery, the Geismar chemicals plant, the Port Allen catalysts site, pipelines and other operations.

"I have asked Shell to work with us in re-employing workers of the Convent Refinery at other Louisiana locations. We also will support Shell in its efforts to sell and repurpose this important industrial site for the future benefit of St. James Parish, the River Parishes and our entire state.”

Read the full statement from Shell below. 

Shell has announced the shutdown of its Convent Refinery in Louisiana. The decision is part of the company’s global strategy to invest in a core set of uniquely integrated manufacturing sites that are also strategically positioned for the transition to a low-carbon future. The shutdown process will begin mid-November.

In July of 2020, we shared with staff that the Shell Convent Refinery was being marketed. Despite efforts to sell the asset, a viable buyer was never identified. After looking at all aspects of our business, including financial performance, we made the difficult decision to shut down the site.

Shell will ensure a safe and responsible shutdown of the refinery with a focus on the people who are most directly impacted. That includes supporting Convent employees at this difficult time by assisting them in applying for alternate opportunities within the company, or in transitioning to a future outside of the Shell. Shell will be opening a Selective Voluntary Severance program at its Geismar and Norco facilities, subject to bargaining for union represented employees, to potentially create additional roles where Convent employees can be placed.

We will retain a meaningful presence in Louisiana by way of our integrated refining and chemicals sites at Norco and Geismar, our midstream infrastructure assets, branded retail presence, Gulf of Mexico operations and our offices in New Orleans.

After the shutdown process is complete, we will continue to market the Convent Refinery for divestment.

Recent History

Shell announced in September that its Chemicals and Manufacturing businesses will integrate to create an end-to-end Chemicals and Products organization. This new organization will be reflected in six Energy and Chemical Parks that will enable us to deliver on the strategy of growing our Chemicals business and adapting our Refining footprint to provide customers with the lower-carbon products they desire. A key advantage of these core sites will also come from further integration with Shell trading hubs, and from producing more chemicals and other products that are resilient in a low-carbon future.

Remaining Sites

Shell’s remaining refinery sites include; Rheinland (Germany), Pernis (NL), Palau Bukom (Sinapore), Scotford (Canada), Norco (US) and Deer Park (US).

Currently we operate 11 refineries (excludes Tabangao Philippines- terminal conversion), and have interests in a further 3 (a total of 14) ? Less 5 refineries that were/are marketed; Frederica (Denmark), Puget Sound (US), Mobile (US), Convent (US), Sarnia (Canada) ? Less 3 non-operated JV refineries; SAPREF (South African Petroleum Refineries PTY LTD)(Durban South Africa), Miro (Germany) and PCK (Schwedt, Germany).

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