* Analyst says refinery may shut if no buyer is found
* Party leader says sale will affect Irish economy
By Sabina Zawadzki and Simon Falush
NEW YORK/LONDON June 11 Phillips 66 said
on Tuesday it is to sell Ireland's only refinery, another blow
to Europe's ailing oil refining industry.
An analyst said it was likely the 71,000 barrels per day
Whitegate facility in Cork would have to shut as it will be hard
to find buyers for it.
"The odds of a buyer emerging look slim," said Seth
Kleinman, head of energy research at Citigroup.
"Phillips 66 intends to continue operating the assets as
usual during the marketing process, which is expected to last
for several months," company spokesman Rich Johnson said in a
Other assets on sale include an oil and refined products
storage terminal in Bantry Bay and its wholesale marketing
business, the company said.
Europe's refining sector has been struggling because of over
Coryton refinery in the UK, owned by the bankrupt Petroplus
group, closed last year after administrators failed to find a
buyer for it.
Creditors of Petroplus's UK operations were paid a maximum
of 6.4 percent of their claims.
Kleinman said a closure of Whitegate refinery would lead to
worries about security of fuel supply for Ireland.
"Whitegate supplies about one third of Ireland's oil
products, so it would leave a big hole to fill and has to raise
questions about fuel security for the country."
In Dublin, the leader of Ireland's main opposition party
Fianna Fail, Micheal Martin, said the sale of Ireland's only oil
refinery had potentially serious consequences for its economy.
"Whitegate is a key strategic asset. It provides one third
of all our transportation fuel and is a long-term principal
supplier to the National Oil Reserves Agency. The threat to its
future has serious implications for Ireland's energy supply and
consequently for our economy," Martin said in a statement.
He said Whitegate has operated in east Cork for nearly 55
years. "It has been a major employer in the area for decades,
supporting hundreds of jobs directly and indirectly. Its loss
would be a serious blow to local economy."
Data released on Tuesday also highlighted the strains on the
European refinery sector.
European refiners processed less crude oil in May than the
previous month, the data from industry monitor Euroilstock
showed, cutting back in the face of weak demand in the region.