South West Wales

Murco deal collapse could affect thousands in wider area

Murco refinery at Milford Haven
Image caption The oil refinery has been up for sale for four years

The collapse of a deal to save the Murco oil refinery could hit thousands of jobs as the impact on the wider south west Wales area is felt.

Owners Murphy Oil confirmed on Tuesday prospective buyers Swiss-based Klesch Group had pulled out.

The site will be converted to a storage and distribution facility and all but about 60 of the 400 refinery staff in Milford Haven face losing their jobs.

But it is the support network around the refinery that will also suffer.

BBC Wales' business correspondent Brian Meechan said it is estimated the refinery contributes £30m a year to the Pembrokeshire economy and supports a further 4,200 jobs in the area.

Lee Day, news editor at the Western Telegraph, said: "It's a major employer in the area.

"The knock-on impact will be massive - on local businesses that provide contractors and equipment, the impact of reduced spending power in the local community and also on Pembrokeshire's status as an energy hub.

"Whenever jobs are lost, that ripples down. It's certainly across south west Wales."

Mr Day said it is not just contractors who will be hit. There are also people who supply the refinery with food and others who carry out repairs to vehicles.

Sponsorship

And when a refinery goes into shut down for a few weeks at a time, engineers come in to carry out checks, but they will not be needed in the future,

Local sports clubs and community organisations will also suffer as Murco sponsored many of them.

The UK and Welsh governments have worked together to save the refinery but it was all in vain.

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb, who is also the local MP, said: "I genuinely don't believe there is anything more that could have been done from the UK or Welsh government side to hold this together."

So what next for the workers of the refinery which has served the area since 1973?

"A lot of these posts are the sort of well-paid jobs that a local economy like Pembrokeshire's simply cannot afford to lose," said Mr Day.

"Many will be specialist roles that do not come up that often, particularly locally.

"Process operator roles for example, they are already very keenly sought, highly prized jobs. It's likely that many staff will now have to look out of Pembrokeshire to find similar employment."

The other major employer in Pembrokeshire is the huge Valero refinery in Pembroke, which employs 1,000 including contractors, but any positions that become vacant would be at a premium.

Mr Day said: "It's such a specialised role that if any jobs were to come up, you would have hundreds going for those jobs."

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