CVR Refining, HollyFrontier cut jobs at U.S. refineries

(Reuters) - CVR Refining and HollyFrontier Corp have cut their workforces in recent weeks, according to three sources, as demand falls due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In recent weeks CVR Refining has laid off approximately 50 salaried employees and HollyFrontier has cut at least 12 jobs, the sources said. HollyFrontier previously said it would lay off about 130 workers at its Cheyenne, Wyoming, refinery as it converts to a renewable diesel facility.

CVR and HollyFrontier both declined to comment.

Refining margins have dropped due to the coronavirus pandemic, reducing profit. Independent U.S. refiners are operating at just 75% of capacity and in the first quarter, refiners announced millions of dollars in cuts to capital and operating expenses.

HollyFrontier will allow Cheyenne refinery employees to apply for some 40 positions across its other refining operations, according to two of the sources.

“The company needed to tighten up their belt ... 20 years of record margins disappeared to the coronavirus and an oil glut so they are cutting costs where they can,” said one of the sources, a refinery worker.

U.S. refineries have been running at reduced rates due to falling demand for products such as gasoline and jet fuel. At this time last year, U.S. refinery utilization was roughly 95%, as refiners met demand for busy summer driving months.

Gasoline demand has recovered somewhat from its weakest levels in April and May, but coronavirus cases are surging in populous states like California and Texas, the country’s biggest consumers of road fuel, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Governors there and in other states have closed bars and restaurants and halted other plans to relax restrictions meant to stop the spread of the virus.

Reporting by Laura Sanicola in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis