Murphy Oil Considers Closing UK Refinery

Murphy Oil Corp. of El Dorado has announced that it was "entering into a period of consultation" regarding the future of its crude oil refinery in Milford Haven, Wales, implying that the refinery may cease operation following the failure of Murphy to sell it.

According to a company release, the consultation is taking place with "certain employees and their representatives," including those that work at the refinery, which is operated by a Murphy subsidiary called Murco Petroleum Limited. The release added that the consultation will "understandably be an unsettling time for everyone concerned."

In 2010, Murphy announced plans to exit its refining business. Since then, it sold its refineries in Superior, Wisc., and Meraux, La., but has tried and failed to sell the Milford Haven refinery since then.

The company has in the past discussed closing the refinery and converting it to a storage facility.

"U.K. refining remains a particularly challenging market, caused in part by declining demand and increased international competition," the release stated. "The U.K. currently has seven oil refineries down from a peak of 18 in the late 70s. It is against this backdrop that the company and Murphy have been working to try and find a solution that would allow the refinery to continue at Milford Haven."

The company stated that its next step is to speak with "a small number of interested parties, which may or may not lead to allowing the refinery to continue to operate."

"Our focus today is on helping our people understand what this means for them," said Murco managing director Tom McKinlay in the release. "For over three years, we have left no stone unturned in trying to find a buyer for the plant. Our efforts highlight the challenges and ongoing changes confronting the European refining industry and are in no way a reflection on the attitudes and work ethic of the Murco team. We will continue to do all we can to ensure our employees are supported during this time."