Wales

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Pembroke oil refinery

Duchess and Duke of Cambridge Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Duchess and Duke of Cambridge speak to officials and dignitaries on a visit to the Valero refinery

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Valero refinery in Pembrokeshire on Saturday, at the end of a difficult week for the local oil industry.

The smaller Murco refinery, nearby in Milford Haven, announced a takeover deal has collapsed with hundreds of workers losing their jobs.

But Valero in Pembroke is celebrating 50 years since being officially opened.

The company said Prince William and Kate's visit was a "huge honour".

FIFTY YEARS OF THE PEMBROKE REFINERY IN PICTURES:

Image copyright Valero
Image caption The Queen Mother's visit - 50 years before her great-grandson
Image copyright Valero
Image caption The jetty approach in May 1964
Image copyright Valero
Image caption The refinery's steam plant in 1969
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The refinery is worth an estimated £1.5m-a-week to the Welsh economy
Image copyright Valero
Image caption An aerial view of the refinery site as it looked 45 years ago
Image copyright Valero
Image caption Valero has one of the deepest natural ports in the world

The Pembroke refinery was officially opened in 1964 by the Queen Mother and employs 1,200 people.

Built in a deep natural harbour at Rhoscrowther, it processes 270,000 barrels a day, has a pipeline stretching as far as Manchester and supplies more than 10% of the UK's fuel.

The duke and duchess, whose second child is due in April, met workers and apprentices, as well as looking at a display celebrating the last 50 years.

The couple were also due to meet community organisations and see a performance by the Young Actors Studio, which works in partnership with the refinery through the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Before the visit, Valero vice president and refinery general manager Ed Tomp said it was a recognition of the role the plant "continues to play supporting our economy and communities here in west Wales".

"I know the entire community is looking forward to welcoming the duke and duchess to the refinery, which looks set to be a wonderful opportunity for everyone in Pembrokeshire to celebrate."

Image caption A task force is being set up to attract new jobs to Pembrokeshire after the Murco sale collapsed

But elsewhere, workers have been digesting the news that all but 60 of 400 jobs are set to go at the Murco refinery at Milford Haven after a deal to save it from closure collapsed.

The sale of the firm to the Swiss-based Klesch Group was called off on Tuesday night. A task force is set to meet next week to discuss a way forward.

Councillor Huw George, Pembrokeshire cabinet member for environmental and regulatory services, said everyone was trying to support and create jobs in the region.

"Valero and Dragon LNG are all important not only for the Haven, for Pembrokeshire, but for the UK," he said.

"As a council, as a county and as a nation we're aware oil and gas is one side, but we must be able to diversify and the innovation starter units at Pembroke Dock are full, there's some really ground-breaking work going on as we look to the next generation."

After leaving Pembrokeshire, William and Kate will attend the match between Wales and Australia, the first of the autumn rugby internationals at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

The duke is vice patron of the Welsh Rugby Union.

They will observe a remembrance tribute before the kick off and meet injured service veterans in the president's box at half time.

There will also be a reception for the Welsh rugby charitable trust, which supports seriously injured players.

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