U.S.-based Origin International makes bid to buy refinery in Come By Chance, N.L.

Storage tanks are seen at the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, N.B., on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

U.S.-based oil-recycling company Origin International has made a bid to buy a refinery in Come By Chance, N.L., CEO Nicholas Myerson confirmed Wednesday.

Myerson wouldn’t give details about the offer his company made to U.S. investment firm Silverpeak, the parent company of North Atlantic Refining Corp., which owns and operates the oil refinery.

Last month, the facility’s future was thrown into uncertainty when Irving Oil announced its agreement with Silverpeak to buy the refinery had fallen apart.

Glenn Nolan, president of the United Steelworkers Union Local 9316, says he and members of his team met with Origin last week to hear the company’s plans for the facility. “The workers are excited,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “The biggest thing that we need now (is) Origin and Silverpeak to finally ink a deal.”

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“It’s big for the economy, it’s big for the communities, and it’s big for the jobs coming back there.” Origin intends to increase the number of workers at the refinery, Nolan said, adding that he believes the company has a solid plan for the future of the facility.

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At peak operations, the refinery can process about 130,000 barrels of oil a day and employs around 500 people. Hundreds were laid off when the pandemic hit last spring and the facility was idled.

Click to play video: 'N.L.’s Come By Chance oil refinery may close as deal fails'
N.L.’s Come By Chance oil refinery may close as deal fails

In the legislature Wednesday, Energy Minister Andrew Parsons expressed cautious optimism, saying he’s happy there is interest in a tough oil market. “I’m not going to relax or rest until a deal is done. I want to see something done,” Parsons said.

He said other companies are interested in the refinery, without giving details. Parsons said he couldn’t give any other information about Origin’s offer, either.

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“I’m afraid to put a timeline on it … and the fact is, I can’t dictate it,” he said about the potential deal between Origin and Silverpeak. He acknowledged that the refinery could be less desirable on the market if it’s shut down and “goes cold.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 4, 2020.

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