Western Refining shutters Bloomfield, NM, plant

AP News
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Posted: Nov 09, 2009 6:00 PM

Western Refining Inc. plans to shutter its Bloomfield, N.M., refinery and consolidate the operations of its two New Mexico plants in a move the company said Monday will save $25 million per year.

About 100 employees will be laid off, Western spokesman Gary Hanson said. The job cuts are set to begin within two weeks and should be completed by mid-December.

Together, the company's Bloomfield and Gallup plants could process 40,000 barrels of crude oil a day at peak capacity. Recently, each has produced 12,000 to 14,000 barrels a day, and Western said it can process the same volume of oil _ about 26,000 barrels per day _ at the Gallup refinery alone.

The refining industry has been struggling because oil prices have been climbing but gasoline prices have stayed relatively low.

"The decision to idle the Bloomfield refinery was a difficult but necessary decision to ensure that Western remains well positioned for the future, despite the weak industry dynamics," Western CEO Paul Foster said in a news release.

Foster said the El Paso, Texas-based company appreciates the Bloomfield employees and will treat them "fairly and with respect" through the transition.

Hanson said the layoffs affect all areas of the Bloomfield refinery _ maintenance, operations and administration. He said a few positions might transfer elsewhere, but the Gallup site is expected to operate at current staffing levels.

The company said it will offer severance packages and other assistance to laid-off employees.

Shares of Western Refining fell 3 cents to $5.39 on Monday.