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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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New Information Centre opens at Withybush Hospital for those affected by Cancer

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A NEW Macmillan Information and Support Centre has opened at the entrance to Hywel Dda University Health Board’s Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest to help those looking for advice and support about cancer.

The Centre has been officially opened by 10-year-old Ethan Llewelyn-Dimon, from Whitland. He recently raised a staggering £3,600 for Macmillan Cancer Support Wales by growing his hair to make a wig for the Little Princess Trust. Ethan’s family has been affected by cancer twice. His aunty Jo and mamgu had cancer. Sadly he never got to meet his aunty, as she passed away before he was born. Thankfully his Mamgu survived although she had three operations and lost her hair during the treatment. Ethan decided to grow his hair long enough to be made into a wig for children going through cancer and wanted to raise money as well to give something back to those who helped his family.

The new Information and Support Centre is open 9am – 5pm, from Monday to Friday. Helen Wood and Rachel Kersey, Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Coordinators, will be in the Centre to offer information and support.

Helen Wood said, “Being told that you have cancer is one of the hardest things that you hear, and it can be a scary time where sometimes you just need someone who you can ask for support and information about what is out there that might help. This is why we developed the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service and have been supporting people in Pembrokeshire for the past six years. We are there for anyone affected by cancer in many different ways from emotional support and someone to talk to, help to access psychological support from specialist Cancer Counsellors or a referral to the Macmillan Benefits Advice Team. We can provide both electronic and hard copies of the various Macmillan resources or signpost to other local and national organisations or support networks.” 

The pandemic meant support was only available over the phone but the opening of the Centre means face to face meetings are once again possible, but for the time being it must be a booked appointment to help keep everyone as safe as possible. 

Official opening of new cancer information and support centre in Withybush hospital

Rachel Kersey said, “It is always a privilege to be able to help, no question is too small and if you are unsure of what you need, just give us a call on 01437 773859.”

Anna Tee, Partnership Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said, “Macmillan is delighted to have designed and funded this fantastic new space for people who need cancer information in collaboration with Hywel Dda.”  

Gina Beard, Lead Cancer Nurse for Hywel Dda University Health Board said, “This is a service that is provided throughout Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire and when circumstances allow, we will reach out to local businesses and attend events. The support service is here for people with concerns around a cancer diagnosis whether that’s the individual, friends or family. We are urging patients to come forward for diagnostic tests as we are concerned that many are still not seeking the care they need due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We want people who suspect they have cancer to know we are very much open for business.”

The way the public access NHS services has changed and the Welsh Government is encouraging people to get to know the breadth of NHS services and options available to them as part of its Help Us, Help You campaign. The Macmillan support service can help with support and advice. The Health Board are also urging people to phone their local GP surgery if they think they might have symptoms of cancer, such as a new lump, pain, bleeding or sudden weight loss.

The Macmillan Information and Support Centre can be contacted by telephoning: 01437 773 859 or email: MacmillanCISSPembrokeshire.HDD@wales.nhs.uk

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Four charged with conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine in west Wales

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FOUR people have been arrested and charged as part of an investigation into an organised crime gang supplying class A drugs from London to various locations in west Wales.

Dyfed-Powys Police, with support from The Met Police, carried out warrants at four addresses on July 21, resulting in four arrests.

Mohammed Osman, aged 23, Yonis Mohammed, aged 20, Salman Mohamoud, aged 23 – all from Islington – and Amy Simmons, aged 21, from Dulwich were charged with a total of 12 offences:

  • Mohammed Osman: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine,
  • Yonis Mohammed: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.
  • Salman Mohamoud: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine
  • Amy Simmons: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.

All four appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 23, where they were remanded in custody.

They are due to appear at Swansea Crown Court for their next hearing on August 20.

The investigation is being carried out by the Ceredigion Serious and Organised Crime Team, Aberystwyth CID and the Operation Orochi command of the Met Police.

Detective Sergeant Steve Jones said: “These four arrests and charges are the result of a coordinated approach to target an organised crime gang we believe is running a county lines operation into the Dyfed-Powys Police force area.

“We will continue to work diligently to disrupt gangs of this kind, to prevent the supply of illegal substances into our community.

“I would like to thank all officers involved, as well as the Met Police for their part in the operation.”

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Fishguard RNLI rescues drifting pleasure boat and crew

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ON SATURDAY evening  (Jul 24) a member of the public walking the coastal path near Carregwastad Point saw, in the fading light, a pleasure boat with people aboard apparently in difficulty. The member of the public then called 999.

This resulted in Fishguard RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat launching at 8.50pm with a full volunteer crew and speeding to the scene in calm sea conditions. Upon arrival at the location the lifeboat found a 7 foot pleasure boat drifting with four young men onboard.

Location of incident at Carregwastad Point, North Pembrokeshire (Image ONS)

The boat’s outboard engine had broken down and they had no auxiliary engine or any safety equipment, no lights, and no form of communication.

A tow line was attached to the boat and the men were transferred to the lifeboat.

One of the lifeboat crew went aboard the pleasure boat for the return journey to Goodwick public slipway where UK Coastguard personnel were waiting to speak with the four men.

The lifeboat returned to its station, arriving at 9.50pm.

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