Imperial Oil eyes sale, change for of N.S. refinery

Imperial Oil Ltd. is eyeing the sale of its refinery in Halifax, citing global competition and lower demand for gasoline — particularly in Europe.

Imperial Oil Ltd. is eyeing the sale of its refinery in Halifax, citing global competition and lower demand for gasoline — particularly in Europe.

A decision is expected on a sale or other alternative, including having the operation in the Dartmouth community converted to a terminal, by the first quarter of 2013, Imperial executive Gilles Courtemanche told a news conference Thursday.

“The demand for diesel has grown by a factor of five, but gasoline demand in Europe today is lower than it was in 1970,” said Courtemanche, vice-president of refining and surplus for Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO).

“So that is causing surplus gasoline production,” he said.

“The Dartmouth refinery operates in the highly competitive, over-supplied Atlantic basin, which as you all know is open to significant global competition.”

Courtemanche said there are a couple dozen potential buyers in a variety of businesses.

He cited an airline company that bought a refinery recently in Pennsylvania to meet its needs as an example of the diversity of possible buyers.

About 200 employees and 200 contractors work at the refinery and related terminals in Dartmouth, Sydney, N.S., Corner Brook, NL, Sept-Iles, Que., and Cap aux Meules in the Magdalen Islands.

Converting the refinery to an import terminal would require about 20 to 25 employees, Courtemanche said. The refinery now processes almost 90,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

He said the Halifax airport and the Department of National Defence need a secure supply of fuel and “our commitment is to maintain that security of supply via a terminal as opposed to refining the crude oil and turning it into finished products.”

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter said Imperial Oil’s announcement would be felt most by its employees.

“This will be a difficult day for a lot of people at that refinery,” Dexter said at the provincial legislature. “It will be a difficult day for the community.”

The company’s decision comes two months after the provincial government extended a tax break for the refinery for five years.

But Dexter said he has no regrets providing that relief.

“Anybody who thinks that putting higher taxes in place for the refinery will make it more attractive as an asset for sale is really in la-la land,” he said.

“We have to be concerned, as governments, about things like energy supply and security and what these things mean when you fail to keep this kind of a key piece of the economy.”

Nova Scotia once had three refineries. If the Imperial Oil facility were to shut down, it would leave the province without any.

The Dartmouth refinery began production in 1918 and has a capacity of about 88,000 barrels a day. It produces a wide range of petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, home heating fuel, marine fuel, heavy fuel oil and asphalt.

Imperial Oil is a major producer of crude oil and natural gas, Canada’s largest petroleum refiner and a key petrochemical producer in addition to running a coast-to-coast supply and retail service station networks, operating as Esso.

Shares in the company were down 1.6 per cent or 68 cents to $41.32 Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, receive flu shot. Photo via Government of Alberta
COVID cases climb in central zone, Red Deer

The total number of active COVID-19 cases in the province reached 3,138… Continue reading

Many rural municipalities were concerned about a proposed reduction to their industrial revenues, but Alberta’s municipal affairs minister has come up with an alternative solution. (Photo contributed)
Energy industry support won’t injure municipalities

Creating new wells or pipelines would result in a three year ‘tax holiday’

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Premier Jason Kenney participated in a livestream on Oct. 17, 2020. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
UCP members pass resolution at AGM calling for privately funded health care option

EDMONTON — Members of Alberta’s governing United Conservative Party have narrowly endorsed… Continue reading

“We weren’t sure what to expect with just doing the 50/50. We have been positively surprised with sales so far,” says Craig Fleming, co-chair of the Red Deer Kinsmen Club’s raffle. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Non-profits put their money on 50/50 draws

COVID impacts fundraising events

Student taking a math test. (Pixabay photo)
David Marsden: Students need more testing, not less

Testing has been central to Alberta’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s… Continue reading

Gillian Robertson celebrates her win over Sarah Frota during UFC 240, in Edmonton, Saturday, July 27, 2019. Robertson used her superior grappling skills to dominate Brazil's Poliano Botelho en route to a unanimous decision win Saturday night on a UFC Fight Night card. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian Gillian (The Savage) Robertson dominates in UFC decision win in Abu Dhabi

Canadian Gillian (The Savage) Robertson dominates in UFC decision win in Abu Dhabi

Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis, right, hugs captain Kyle Bekker following their victory in the Canadian Premier League soccer final against Cavalry FC in Calgary, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. A month after winning the Island Games in Charlottetown, Hamilton-based Forge FC is back on the move. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CPL champion Forge FC off to El Salvador for CONCACAF League preliminary-round match

CPL champion Forge FC off to El Salvador for CONCACAF League preliminary-round match

Course workers prepare the landing area at the ski jump venue in Whistler Olympic Park in Whistler, B.C. Friday, Feb. 5, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Next generation of Canadian ski talent sets sights on Whistler, B.C., in 2023

Next generation of Canadian ski talent sets sights on Whistler, B.C., in 2023

Mighty Heart is held by groom Siobhan Brown in his stall at trainer Josie Carroll's stable at Woodbine Racetrack, in Toronto, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. The one eyed horse, will run in the $400,000 Breeders' Stakes on October 24, attempting to become Canada's first horse to win the Triple Crown since Wando in 2003. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Rain could present big challenge in Mighty Heart’s quest to capture Triple Crown

Rain could present big challenge in Mighty Heart’s quest to capture Triple Crown

Veteran sniper Evgenii Dadonov excited to join Senators: ‘It’s a perfect fit’

Veteran sniper Evgenii Dadonov excited to join Senators: ‘It’s a perfect fit’

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II (27) gets pushed out of bund by Green Bay Packers free safety Darnell Savage (26) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Packers seek to bounce back after embarrassing defeat

Packers seek to bounce back after embarrassing defeat

World junior hockey championship opens on Christmas Day for first time since 2005

World junior hockey championship opens on Christmas Day for first time since 2005

Most Read