Denis Naughten won’t meet Whitegate bidders

The newly appointed Energy Minister Denis Naughten has no intention of meeting companies interested in buying the country’s only oil refinery.

Denis Naughten won’t meet Whitegate bidders

The owners of the refinery in Whitegate Co Cork, Phillips 66, have confirmed that there is significant interest in the facility with negotiations believed to be at an advanced stage.

The future of the refinery and its 290 or so full-time and contract staff remains up in the air with Phillips 66’s obligation to operate the refinery expiring in July 2016.

Despite the uncertainty regarding the refinery and the purpose that any potential new owners have in mind for it, the minister has ruled out any intervention.

The Government also has no plans to return Whitegate to public ownership.

“The current owners of Whitegate Refinery, Phillips 66, informed this department in late 2015 of their intention to sell the refinery as a going concern… [the] sale of the Whitegate Refinery is a private commercial process between the owners and interested parties.

“It is not the minister’s intention to meet interested parties while the sale process is ongoing. Under the terms of the 2001 sale, the owners are obliged to continue to operate the refinery for a minimum of 15 years, a commitment which remains in place until July 2016.

“There are no plans to take the Whitegate refinery into public ownership,” a spokesperson said.

The department believes that Whitegate contributes to the security of energy supply, employment and the local economy, the spokesperson added.

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