SAINT JOHN, N.B.—Irving Oil has struck a deal to buy Ireland’s only refinery in a move that could help the New Brunswick-based company’s ambitions of shipping crude overseas.
The privately-owned firm announced it is buying the Whitegate refinery near Cork for an undisclosed price.
The purchase of the 57-year-old refinery from Houston-based Phillips 66 will extend Irving Oil’s reach across the Atlantic, the company said.
“It’s a good day for our company and we’re looking forward to welcoming the Whitegate team to Irving Oil,” said Arthur Irving, chairman of Irving Oil, one of the main companies in a business empire owned by the Irving family.
Irving Oil has its main refinery in Saint John, N.B., the eastern end of the proposed Energy East Pipeline that would carry Alberta crude to eastern markets if the project is completed.
The Saint John refinery is the largest in Canada and one of the largest in North America, producing 300,000 barrels per day of gasoline, diesel, heating oil, jet fuel, propane and asphalt for domestic and U.S. markets.
The Whitegate refinery processes up to 75,000 barrels of crude per day, mostly from the North Sea. It has 160 employees plus contract personnel, which Irving Oil says will be retained.
Phillips has been working for months on plans to sell Whitegate but isn’t disclosing details of the Irving Oil deal.
“We will continue to operate the business as usual until the transaction closes,” a Phillips spokesman said in an email.
Irving Oil’s announcement didn’t say whether the Irish refinery would receive crude from Canada. However, Irving Oil has been a supporter of the Energy East Pipeline proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP).
Energy East faces opposition from numerous groups and requires various approvals before it can be built.
Last week, environmental groups said increased crude tanker traffic because of the Energy East Pipeline would raise the risk of a large spill and jeopardize the environment and marine life between New Brunswick and the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Supporters of the pipeline, however, have said that crude from Saudi Arabia is already transported by ship to North American refineries and that Canadian energy producers need to be able to sell their products on global markets.