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Murco deal collapses

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refinery sale

MURCO has today announced that it will be entering into a period of consultation with employees, and their representatives, as to the future of the company and its Milford Haven refinery.

The Pembrokeshire Herald understands that Murco’s efforts to finalise a deal with Greybull Capital have not been successful, despite hopes that a deal was in its final stages last week. Four hundred jobs are now at risk at the oil refinery. In a statement the company said: “The UK refining remains a particularly challenging market, caused in part by declining demand and increased international competition. The UK currently has seven oil refineries down from a peak of 18 in the late 70s. It is against this backdrop that the company and Murphy have been working to try and find a solution that would allow refinery operations to continue at Milford Haven.”

“During the past three plus years Murphy has negotiated with numerous parties but has not yet been able to find a buyer for Murco. Following the expiration of exclusive talks with a potential buyer, Murphy and the company plan to speak with a small number of interested parties, which may or may not lead to allowing the refinery to continue to operate.

“Murco is therefore today entering into a period of consultation with employees and their representatives, including the employees that work at the refinery. Until this period is completed it is not possible to predict the outcome of this process. In the interim we will ensure we properly consult with our employees during what will understandably be an unsettling time for everyone concerned.”

Commenting on today’s announcement, Tom McKinlay, Managing Director of Murco said:

“Our focus today is on helping our people understand what this means for them. For over three years, we have left no stone unturned in trying to find a buyer for the plant. Our efforts highlight the challenges and on-going changes confronting the European refining industry and are in no way a reflection on the attitude and work ethic of the Murco team. We will continue to do all we can to ensure our employees are supported during this time.

“The collapse of the Murco refinery sale is a hammer blow for Pembrokeshire and the wider West Wales economy. Hundreds of skilled, high quality jobs in our community are now at risk. Pembrokeshire has seen refinery closures before and we know the short-term impact can be colossal.”

Stephen Crabb MP told the Herald: “If Murphy Oil cannot do the deal with Greybull then it must explore all possible alternative sale options as a matter of urgency. I have met with one other buyer on two occasions now who so far has been locked out of the sale process because of the exclusive negotiations with Greybull. The time has come for Murphy to speak to this company about what their intentions would be.

“I have had an urgent meeting with the Energy Minister Michael Fallon, and have asked that he and his department work closely now with Welsh Government to offer every possible support to avoid the worst outcome of full refinery closure. Everyone understands the seriousness of the situation and what this means for Pembrokeshire.

“The staff and management at Murco in Milford Haven have worked incredibly hard over the last three years to turn the plant around and create one of the leanest and most efficient refineries in the country. Their commitment and effort has been hugely impressive and it is a very sad day for them and their families to be told that the sale has collapsed.”

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Leader, Councillor Jamie Adams, said: “I am sorry to hear that the sale of the refinery has fallen through. “We hope that it will continue to operate as a refinery as that will save the jobs of both refinery staff and of the many local sub-contractors who work there.

“The County Council and the Welsh Government will continue to support Murco as they look for an alternative buyer.

“Ideally we would want a viable, sustainable purchaser to come forward from within the industry who could guarantee the future of oil refining at the site.”

Commenting on the news that a deal to sell Murco oil refinery in Milford Haven has fallen through, local Assembly Member Paul Davies told the Herald: “I am extremely concerned about today’s statement regarding the Murco refinery at Milford Haven. Murco is a significant employer in Pembrokeshire and the refinery is of huge importance to the local economy. This news will be a bitter blow for Pembrokeshire and will undoubtedly leave hundreds of highly skilled jobs in our community at risk.”

“I appreciate that the oil industry is facing difficult times and I very much hope that Murco are exploring all sale opportunities. However, this news is of great concern to the people of Pembrokeshire. I have now written to the First Minister of Wales, expressing my concern at this latest news and calling for support from the Welsh Government. It is crucial that we all work together to help secure the sustainability of this refinery for years to come.”

Rebecca Evans, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, has expressed disappointment at the news that a deal to sell the Murco oil refinery in Milford Haven has fallen through, and a consultation has begun with employees.

Mrs Evans said: “I have spoken to Murco this morning to reiterate my support for the workforce. They reassured me that each and every affected worker would be individually consulted with.

“I know that the First Minister has also been in touch with the company, and will be visiting at the earliest opportunity to explore all possible options to retain these jobs in Milford Haven.

“Recent weeks and months have been a rollercoaster for the workforce and the local community. We were all hoping for a successful completion to the sale.”

Owen Smith MP, Shadow Welsh Secretary, told The Herald: “The loss of hundreds of skilled jobs would be a devastating blow to Pembrokeshire. This is terrible news for the families and communities that rely on the refinery and it is important that the company are supported by both the Welsh and UK governments in finding another buyer and securing the future of the plant.”

Paul Miller, local Labour candidate and leader of the opposition on Pembrokeshire council, said: “After so many half steps forward in the last few months and weeks this is a distressing development for Pembrokeshire. The Murco refinery has over the years employed pretty much all of my family so I know only too well the contribution this plant makes to the local economy. There should be no effort spared salvaging the future of this plant, it’s an absolutely critical part of Pembrokeshire’s economy.”

Simon Hart MP said: “I am very sad to hear that talks have broken down. I am concerned obviously about the large number of employees from the south of the county who are working at Murco. I’m looking forward to working with Stephen Crabb and other colleagues to help the employees in these circumstances”.

MURCO TIMELINE:

1973: The refinery opens under Amoco’s ownership.
1981: A major upgrade was carried out and a catalytic cracker was added.
1981: Murco (a subsidiary of Murphy Oil) purchased a 30% share of the refinery.
1983: Refinery storage tank containing 46,000 tonnes of North Sea crude oil catches fire
1990: Elf buys Amoco’s interest.
1994: Explosion and fires at refinery after electrical storm.
2000: Elf was acquired by Total in 2000.
2004: Total cautioned for unsafe dust release in 2002.
2007: Murco purchases Total’s 70% interest in the refinery to become the 100% owner.
2010: Firefighters tackle blaze at refinery.
2010: Murco expresses an intention to sell the refinery.
2012: Refinery bosses in talks with several interested parties about potential sale of Murco.
2012: Small fire breaks out at refinery
2013: First Murco sale talks collapse.
2013: Refinery makes $105m loss leading to reports that the refinery may be closing.
2013: Murco denies reports that the refinery will be closing.
2014: Greybull enter into negotiations with Murphy Oil about buying the refinery.
2014: Deal with Greybull collapses.

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Pembrokeshire cottage letting agency offers free holidays to NHS heroes

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PEMBROKESHIRE-BASED holiday letting agency St Brides Bay Cottages has teamed up with its property owners and Operation Recuperation to offer free holidays to frontline healthcare workers. The family-run firm has announced the scheme to say thank you to the healthcare heroes who are risking their lives to keep the UK safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

The generous initiative will see healthcare professionals enjoy a well-deserved break in picturesque St Davids, Solva, Newgale or Porthgain, after the crisis is over. The scheme is part of Operation Recuperation, a UK-wide campaign launched to gift future stays in beautiful places to frontline healthcare providers.

Sam Sibbald, manager of St Brides Bay Cottages, based in Solva, said: “This is our way of showing our dedicated healthcare workers that we appreciate everything they’re doing in such difficult circumstances.

“I saw first-hand the pressure the NHS is under, when my dad had a stay in hospital last year. I could tell how pushed they were on a normal day-to-day basis, let alone with having COVID-19 to deal with. Now my dad is at home, needing carers every day, and I can see, more than ever, how much we rely on the people who look after us.

“We’re taking part in Operation Recuperation thanks to the generosity of our cottage owners. By gifting stays to these dedicated workers, we’ll be helping them to recover from the fight against coronavirus.”

Several cottage owners, whose properties are let by St Brides Bay Cottages, have come forward to donate stays in their holiday homes.

Among them is Sheila Morgan, who together with her husband Chris, owns The Anchorage, a two-bedroom apartment in Solva. She said: “As a retired nurse with medical staff in the family, I can fully appreciate the strains and stresses all NHS staff are going through at present. Thank you all for your sterling work. Hopefully the peace, quiet and Pembrokeshire air will aid recuperation.”

Debbie and Patrick Bowie-Moore, the owners of five-bedroom holiday home Mount Pleasant, in Solva, said: “The healthcare workers have offered their all, and it’s our privilege to give a family – who may have been kept apart – the opportunity to stay in Mount Pleasant as a massive thank you.”

Simon Baker, who owns Cefn y Mor, a four-bedroom property in Solva, said: “We are backing the Operation Recuperation project because we have family members on the frontline of the NHS, and know what risks they are taking, and what effort they are putting into saving lives. Our only effort is to stay at home and avoid infection. A small price to pay.”

Jim and Maureen Dale, whose three-bedroom holiday home, May Cottage, is situated on a grade II-listed farm, near St Davids, said: “Rarely do we get an opportunity to say thank you to the staff at the NHS – we tend to take the service so much for granted. Now the chips are down and there they all are, on the frontline looking after us all. Thank you all at the NHS.”

David and Judith James, who are offering a free stay at their converted watermill, Melin Llanrhian, near Porthgain, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support Operation Recuperation as a very small thank you to everyone in the NHS who has worked so hard in such challenging circumstances.”

Operation Recuperation is collecting donations – in room nights and cash – to give free stays to frontline healthcare staff, once the virus restrictions have been lifted.

Rachel Sherwood, who launched Operation Recuperation, said: “A huge thank you to St Brides Bay Cottages for proudly supporting Operation Recuperation and to the cottage owners who have donated stays in this stunning part of Wales, despite very challenging times.

“Sometime in the not-too-distant future, a number of our frontline healthcare staff will be enjoying long clifftop walks, fresh seafood, lazy days on the beach and cosy evenings in sea-view cottages.”

To find out more about St Brides Bay Cottages and Operation Recuperation, visit: https://www.stbridesbaycottages.com/, email enquiries@stbridesbaycottages.com or call 01437 720027.

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Council pays out £2.5m in business grants to date

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has revealed that since Wednesday, 1st April, it has already paid out £2.5 million in grants to local businesses.

The Authority’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Paul Miller, said Council staff had been working hard to make the Covid-19 business grants payable as soon as possible

Explained Councillor Miller: “Payments started on Wednesday this week for those who qualify for grants linked to the National Non-Domestic Ratings (NNDR) system. We have already paid out around £2.5 million in grants to local businesses.

“Daily payment runs are being made in order that these can get into business bank accounts as soon as possible.

“We cannot unfortunately acknowledge receipt of applications but, once authorised, businesses will be emailed and the grant will be paid within two to three working days.”

Councillor Miller added: “If there are any issues with a grant application, or information is missing, a Council officer will be in touch to discuss the matter. A dedicated team has been set up to do this.”

For further business advice refer to the Council’s Business pages which can be accessed via the following link: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

This will enable access to the application form for the above grants, provide answers to frequently asked questions and links to further sources of advice through HMRC, Welsh Government, Department of Work and Pensions, Public Health Wales and other organisations.

For further enquiries not answered through the business pages, email: covid19@pembrokeshire.gov.uk and an officer will respond. Please view the business pages first.

For those who don’t qualify for the grants, Welsh Government will soon be making details available of how business can access other funding through an Economic Resilience Fund.

Details will be available on the Council’s business pages as soon as they are released by Welsh Government.

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Man issued with two COVID-19 fines in 24 hours as police thank those following new legislation

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A man has been issued with two fines in 24 hours for flouting Coronavirus legislation, as police thank those who are following the new rules.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers in Carmarthenshire stopped the 22-year-old from Llanelli twice for being out of the house without a reasonable excuse.

A report was made on April 1 that three men were breaching the COVID-19 legislation by gathering in Llanstephan. A woman who had attempted to film the men reported that they had stolen her phone and driven away.

Officers quickly linked the car to a suspect and traced it driving towards Carmarthen and then Llanelli, and a roads policing unit was directed to the area.

The car was stopped, and the two occupants – a 22-year-old from Llanelli, and a 18-year-old from Carmarthen – were arrested on suspicion of theft. They were also both issued with tickets for COVID-19 offences.

T/Chief Inspector Tom Sharville said: “We are taking the new legislation seriously, and would like to thank the majority of people who are staying home to keep others safe.

“The measures are difficult to adapt to, but it is important that we stay at home to save lives.

“However, there is a minority out there who are under the impression the legislation does not apply to them, and are flouting the law.

“This was the second fine one of these men was issued with in 24 hours, after he showed a clear disregard for all guidelines.”

The men were arrested on suspicion of theft of a mobile phone, and were released under investigation pending further enquiries.

For information about the COVID-19 legislation, and answers to many frequently asked questions, visit https://bit.ly/DPPCovid19

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