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Shell Convent refinery shutdown will cost 1,100 jobs

Staff Report

Nearly 700 fulltime jobs and more than 400 contracting jobs will fall by the wayside in the coming months once Shell shutters its Convent Refinery, which had been up for sale several months.

Shell announced last week it would shutter its Convent Refinery, which had been up for sale several months.

The global oil giant made the announcement last Thursday, which sent shockwaves across the southern region. The shutdown came after Shell announced plans in September to consolidate some of its business into a single end-to-end operation. As part of the plan, the refineries will be more integrated with chemical companies to put more emphasis on biofuels, hydrogen and synthetic fuels.

The shutdown will directly affect St. James Parish government, according to Parish President Peter Dufersene, while neighboring parishes – and much of the state – will feel a ripple effect.

“We are saddened at the news today of Royal Dutch Shell's consolidation of its chemical and refining operations in St. James Parish,” he said. “Since 1967, this refinery has provided economic impact to St. James Parish operating under several different companies over the years. The facility has consistently been the largest taxpayer in St. James Parish, therefore its consolidation will certainly have an impact to our community and the supporting businesses who rely on industry.

“The petrochemical industry is critically important to the St. James Parish annual budget and allows St. James Parish Government to provide essential services to our residents,” he said. “We are hopeful that in the future this refinery will operate once again as it's rail, pipeline, transportation infrastructure and river access are world class.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals impacted by this consolidation and we are confident that Shell is committed to continue community support for our area.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards expressed disappointment in the decision.

“This is a difficult decision for Shell and a challenging time for the company’s 700 Convent employees and their families,” he said. ”The State of Louisiana will support them in every way we can through the Rapid Response Unit of the Louisiana Workforce Commission and through prioritized placement of these talented workers within our state.

“It’s important to note that Shell is reducing the number of standalone refineries companywide in favor of consolidated industrial sites that integrate refining and chemical operations,” Edwards said. “This decision is not due to a lack of competitiveness on the part of Louisiana’s business climate or workforce, and the company will continue to operate many vital assets here.” Shell employs nearly 4,000 people in Louisiana with a similar number of retirees. Company holdings in Louisiana range from deepwater operations headquartered in New Orleans and conducted offshore, to the Norco refinery, the Geismar chemicals plant, the Port Allen catalysts site, pipelines and other operations.”

Edwards said he has asked Shell to work with the state in assisting its Convent refinery employees in finding new work other Shell facilities.

‘We also will support Shell in its efforts to sell and repurpose this important industrial site for the future benefit of St. James Parish, the River Parishes and our entire state,” he said.