Agreement has been reached to sell the Whiddy Island oil terminal in Bantry, which holds a third of Ireland’s strategic oil reserves, to the US startup, Zenith Energy.
The terminal is owned by Phillips 66, which bought it from Tosco Corporation. The facility was sold by the State to Tosco in 2001.
At the time of the 2001 sale, an agreement was reached to operate the refinery and the terminal for at least 15 years on a purely commercial basis while maintaining existing jobs and conditions of employment.
That deal is due to end in May 2015 — less than 12 months from now. And last night the Department of Energy Communications, Energy and Natural Resources said “it is not intended to renew the obligations and guarantees post-2016.
“The original 15-year obligations and guarantees entered into as part of the 2001 sale and purchase will largely expire in 2016, with the exception of the State guarantee in respect of the abandoned jetty at Bantry.
“We understand from Phillips 66 that Zenith intend to continue operating the terminal on a commercial basis. The Bantry terminal will therefore remain an important element of Irish oil infrastructure, regardless of its ownership,” he said.
Phillips 66 employs 30 people directly at the site and the operation indirectly supports 100 contractor jobs.
According to Fianna Fáil Senator Denis O’Donovan, the facility was the largest contributor to the €1.3m harbour dues collected by Bantry Harbour Commissioners in 2012.
A purchase and sale agreement was agreed between Zenith Energy and Phillips 66 in recent weeks and it’s hoped the deal will be finalised by the end of the year. Employees have been informed of the sale.
The Whiddy facility, which has a storage capacity of 7.5 million tonnes, is considered one of the best fuel storage facilities inEurope following significant investment over the past 15 years.
Last night the Department of Energy Communications, Energy and Natural Resources said: “The sale of the Bantry Bay Terminal will not impact on the existing contract for National Oil Reserves Agency(Nora) stocks held at that site”.
Nora also holds stocks at the Whitegate refinery, Tarbert, Co Kerry, Ringsend, Dublin, and Kilroot, Co Antrim.
In addition, Nora stores a smaller portion of stocks in the UK.
Whitegate was originally owned by the Irish National Petroleum, a State company. Ireland is required under EU and IEA obligations to hold 90 days of oil reserves.
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