Should the Irish State buy back Ireland’s only Oil Refinery from a Conoco Phillips?

2 February 2016
By Tom Collins

Workers’ Party Cork City Councillor Ted Tynan has said that the state should compulsorily buy back the Whitegate Refinery in Cork Harbour which was sold to Conoco Philips in 2002 for €100m in a deal which included the Whiddy Island storage facility and a Dublin office block.

Ted Tynan AF 2015

Cllr. Tynan said that there is a “grave danger” that Whitegate refinery will be sold by its current owners Phillips 66 or simply closed down with the loss of 300 direct jobs and a significant level of lucrative shipping traffic in the harbour which accounts for half of the harbour’s shipping traffic and contributes heavily to the local economy.

He said, “Whitegate and Whiddy should never have been sold; the two facilities are vital strategic national assets and important sources of local employment. Ireland needs a publicly owned oil and gas refinery and a strategic oil storage reserve. It is in the national interests and in the economic interests of the Greater Cork region that these facilities are secured and they should be bought back under compulsory purchase order and at a price not greater than the pittance for which they were sold off in the first place”.

The Workers’ Party councillor rejected recent suggestions by a private energy consultancy that Whitegate should be developed under a Public Private Partnership. He said that the facility had already been down the private route and it had been a failure. “Whitegate was built by the Irish people and its continued existence is vital to the Irish economy. It must be taken out of the hands of vulture capitalists and secured for the Irish people”, said Cllr. Tynan.

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