UPDATE 1-Pennsylvania sees bigger toll from refinery closings -USW
(Repeats to widen distribution, no change to headline or text)
* Regional impact from closing refineries greater than thought
* Leaked state report increases job and revenue loss estimates
By Janet McGurty
NEW YORK, March 13 (Reuters) - The powerful steel workers' union made a new push on Tuesday to forestall closure of the U.S. Northeast's biggest refinery, saying the region's economy has suffered more from refinery closings than experts had thought.
In the latest salvo of an increasingly politicized debate around Sunoco and ConocoPhillips' moves to sell or close struggling plants, the United Steelworkers Union (USW) said an unpublished January study by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry showed 20 percent more jobs would be lost.
The USW cited a Delaware County Daily Times report on Sunday citing a study that showed 36,618 jobs were in jeopardy because of the closures of the ConocoPhillips Trainer, Pa., and Sunoco Marcus Hook, Pa., refineries and the soon-to-be-closed Sunoco Philadelphia refinery, the region's largest.
The report, which was published in January, has not been released to the public yet, a spokeswoman for the department said. The USW represents 1,200 of the 2,200 workers in the refineries.
It is likely to stoke debate about the economic impact of closures that may claim around 50 percent of the region's refining capacity, not only reducing jobs but also making the populous U.S. Northeast more dependent on imported fuel.
"This situation is worse than we thought," said Jim Savage, president of USW Local 10-1 of the Philadelphia refinery.
"Other studies told us that for every direct refinery job lost, another eight to 10 workers lose their indirect jobs. These job figures make it more crucial than ever that ConocoPhillips and Sunoco put more effort into finding buyers for these refineries."
All three of the East Coast refineries run costly light, sweet crude imported from overseas, and have struggled to compete with more efficient overseas plants or U.S. Midwest refiners who are soaking up discount landlocked crude.
"Combine these alarming statistics with the fuel supply shortages and price hikes that are anticipated and we have a critical situation in the Northeast," said USW Local 10-234 President Denis Stephano of Trainer.
"The time is now for the government to act. Our country can't afford these shutdowns."
Original estimates put total job losses at about 30,000 in January, based on the assumption that about 2,500 jobs would be gone with the refinery closures.
The new study estimates that 18.3 jobs will be lost for each refinery job lost and that the total economic loss for the affected communities will be more than $566 million in state and local taxes.
Pennsylvania's Center for Workforce Information & Analysis also published re-employment assessment reports that said 39 percent of the ConocoPhillips workforce, 156 workers, would have a fair to difficult time getting a new job.
Sunoco has already idled its 178,000 bpd refinery in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania and plans to shut down its 335,000 bpd refinery in Philadelphia if a buyer can't be found.
Another area refinery, ConocoPhillips has also ceased making products such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. All three refineries are with in a 12 mile radius and account for about 50 percent of Northeast refinery capacity.
The majority of workers at ConocoPhillips' 185,000 bpd Trainer refinery and Sunoco's 178,000 bpd Marcus Hook refinery have already been let go.
In a report released in late February, the U.S. government said price spikes in gasoline and diesel are expected if Sunoco closes the 335,000 Philadelphia refinery this summer as supplies tighten, pushing up prices. (Reporting By Janet McGurty; Editing by David Gregorio)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this