Nfld. & Labrador

Workers remain hopeful for future of Come By Chance refinery after union meetings on Wednesday

Union meetings on Wednesday gave hope to some workers about the Come By Chance oil refinery. 

3rd company interested in buying plant

Dennis Fowler had been working at the refinery since 1996. Now laid off he said the future of the refinery is important for future generations in the province. (John Pike/CBC)

Union meetings on Wednesday gave hope to some workers from the Come By Chance oil refinery. 

The future of the operation still remains unknown after a deal to sell the facility fell through.

However, a third company has now thrown its hat into the ring with potential plans of buying the facility which could be facing a complete shutdown if a suitor isn't found. The identity remains a mystery, along with one other company that has expressed interest so far. The only known candidate has been Origin International Inc., a United States-based company that specializes in recycling used oil. The refinery supplies almost all of the province's fuel.

The Arnold's Cove Lion's Club was bustling with refinery workers as members of United Steelworkers Local 9316 discussed their options. Some were expecting more bad news as 23 workers were laid off last week due to cost cutting by the refinery's current owner North Atlantic Refining. 

"You're looking at people who were thinking 'is there any hope?' This has given us hope, the hope that we need to keep on going," said Dennis Fowler, who had been working at the refinery since the fall of 1996. "It looks a lot brighter."

Fowler is among the growing list of people who have now been laid off. Now 63 years old, he said he's one of the ones who will be able to make it through until retirement, but the future of the refinery will determine the future for the younger generations.

"We got young people with families, homes ... mortgages and everything else, these people need to know where their next dollar is coming from," he said. 

Hope remains for workers of the Come By Chance oil refinery after union meetings on Wednesday. (John Pike/CBC)

Such as in the case of 30-year-old Larry Eddy, who hasn't stepped foot inside the refinery since April. Eddy, married and a father of two, has house payments and vehicle payments he's trying to stay on top of. 

He said right now he has no job, and no prospects. 

"The only hope right now is one of the other companies decides to buy, or at the very least the government steps in," Eddy said. 

"It's been a very different situation, being a father and all. It's big changes. [I've been] looking for work, but it's a very grim future."

Larry Eddy says he hasn't worked at the refinery since April. A father of two, he says the future is grim if the refinery isn't bought by another company. (John Pike/CBC)

But like Fowler, Eddy said he remains hopeful after Wednesday's meeting. 

"The news on Oct. 5 that the refinery may close, I feel a lot more optimistic that's not going to happen now," he said. "I feel more positive after that meeting."

Meanwhile, CBC News has learned North Atlantic Refining has asked for help from the Public Utilities Board, looking for an increase in the regulated wholesale price of gasoline and diesel, along with home heating fuels.

Its hope is to generate more revenue to help it through the ongoing situation.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Terry Roberts