Whiddy oil terminal owner to put the strategic facility up for sale

Whiddy oil terminal owner to put the strategic facility up for sale

The owner of the Whiddy Island oil terminal in Bantry Bay plans to sell the strategic facility.

Zenith Energy, headquartered in Houston, Texas purchased the terminal in February 2015 to serve as a critical commercial link in northwest Europe for crude and refined products. 

The company operates and builds oil terminals across the world including more than 20 facilities in the US, Europe and Latin America. It is understood Zenith now plans to put the Whiddy facility up for sale on March 1. 

With 17 oil storage tanks, Whiddy has a capacity of almost nine million barrels and stores a significant portion of the State's oil reserves. The terminal is also situated in a strategic location on the western edge of Europe.

The company declined to comment on the possible sale when contacted by the Irish Examiner saying that as a matter of company policy they do not comment on commercial matters. 

However, it is understood staff on Whiddy Island were informed of the company's plans in recent days. Up to 50 staff are employed at the facility.

The Whiddy terminal has a long history. First developed by Gulf Oil in the late 1960s, it was transferred to State ownership following the explosion of the French tanker Betelgeuse in 1979 which killed 50 people.

The terminal along with the Whitegate oil refinery in Cork Harbour were operated by the State's Irish National Petroleum Corporation up until 2001 when they were sold to US oil giant Tosco which was later acquired by Phillips 66.

The Whiddy terminal was sold to Zenith in 2015 while Canadian firm Irving Oil purchased the Whitegate refinery in 2016.

The National Oil Reserve Agency (NORA), the State body with responsibility for the maintenance of strategic supplies of oil, is one of Whiddy's largest customers.

Currently, NORA holds approximately 73% of its total oil stocks in Ireland, and the balance abroad.

When Zenith acquired the Whiddy terminal in 2015, they said it would serve as a critical commercial link in northwest Europe for crude and refined products. 

"The terminal’s attractive deepwater location on Bantry Bay enables our customers to take advantage of many trade opportunities, and the terminal will remain an important part of Ireland’s strategic petroleum reserve," the company's CEO Jeffrey R. Armstrong said at the time.

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