Page last updated at 07:33 GMT, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 08:33 UK

Oil giant considers Stanlow sale

Stanlow oil refinery
Up to 1,600 staff work at the refinery near Ellesmere Port

One of the UK's biggest oil refineries, which employs 800 permanent staff in Cheshire, could be sold off.

Oil giant Shell has confirmed that it is undertaking a review of its ownership of the Stanlow refinery, near Ellesmere Port.

But the company said there was no plan to close the plant, which produces roughly one-sixth of Britain's oil.

Workers, who are in the process of being balloted on strike action over a pay claim, have been kept informed.

Quarterly profits at Shell slumped 70% in April to June from a year earlier, to £1.4bn ($2.3bn).

All long-term ownership options are being considered for Stanlow, which could include the sale of the refinery
Shell spokesman

Shell's chief executive Peter Voser last month said global demand for oil remained "weak" and the company would continue to look for ways to cut costs.

In a statement, the company said a review was under way to determine the best long-term ownership options for the refinery and associated local businesses.

A spokesman said it had an obligation to ensure that best value was being achieved and the review was part of "normal portfolio activities".

He said: "All long-term ownership options are being considered for Stanlow, which could include the sale of the refinery.

"If a deal is pursued, the refinery would be sold as a going concern.

"If no deal is pursued, Stanlow will be retained in the Shell portfolio. There are no plans to close the refinery or associated local marketing businesses."

Worker ballot

Up to 1,600 people work at Stanlow, including 800 permanent staff.

The company was hit by the wildcat strikes in February and June by contractors protesting at foreign labour employed at Total's Immingham plant.

Union representative Dave Hulse told BBC Radio Merseyside that workers at the plant had been notified of the developments.

All companies connected with Stanlow have recently been given notice that a ballot for strike action, unconnected with the review, will now run for three weeks.

It follows the breakdown of talks for the unions' 2009 pay claim.

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Shell workers have said they are worried by the development



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