BATON ROUGE – State and local officials are speaking out after Shell announced plans to close a Louisiana refinery.
Governor John Bel Edwards said his administration’s first priority will be the hundreds of families in St. James Parish that will soon be without work.
“We are disappointed to learn that Shell’s Convent Refinery in St. James Parish will be closing in the near future,” Edwards said. “This is a difficult decision for Shell and a challenging time for the company’s 700 Convent employees and their families. 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.”
Edwards went on to say that the decision by Shell, while it will have a negative impact on the state, doesn’t diminish Louisiana’s competitiveness in the oil and gas business world.
“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 our state, 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. I have asked Shell to work with us in re-employing workers of the Convent Refinery at other Louisiana locations. 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.”
St. James Parish president Pete Dufresne echoed Edwards’ concern for the workers, their families, and the rest of the parish.
“We are saddened at the news today of Royal Dutch Shell’s consolidation of its chemical and refining operations in St. James Parish,” Dufresne 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 Petro-chemical industry is critically important to the St. James Parish annual budget and allows St. James Parish Government to provide essential services to our residents. 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.”