Silverpeak reaches tentative deal to potentially reopen Come by Chance refinery: union

·2 min read
Silverpeak, owners of the idle Come By Chance oil refinery, have reached a tentative deal after being without a deal for close to a year, according to a union representative representing workers on the site. (Sherry Vivian/CBC - image credit)
Silverpeak, owners of the idle Come By Chance oil refinery, have reached a tentative deal after being without a deal for close to a year, according to a union representative representing workers on the site. (Sherry Vivian/CBC - image credit)
Sherry Vivian/CBC
Sherry Vivian/CBC

Union officials close to the Come By Chance oil refinery say a tentative deal has been reached on a new collective agreement that could keep the facility from closing.

Rob Thomas, Newfoundland and Labrador's representative with the United Steelworkers, told CBC News on Sunday a tentative deal has been reached at the North Atlantic Refinery with ownership group Silverpeak that could keep the refinery, which had been facing closure, open.

While Thomas said he couldn't share details of the agreement before sharing it with members, he said, it's a step in the right direction.

"We've been without a contract now for about a year.… That is a bit of positive news," Thomas said.

"We're hopefully going to have a vote this week and see where it goes from there."

Meetings on the tentative deal were to begin at 10 a.m. Monday to share the details with the union's almost 250 members. Thomas said he could not say whether a new deal would result in a smaller operation.

The refinery first faced closure in October, when a deal to sell the refinery to Irving Oil fell through.

A month later, Silverpeak rejected an offer from Maryland-based oil recycling company Origin International to buy the refinery, stating the deal was "not in the best interests of our stakeholders or the long-term benefit of our employees and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador."

As recently as January, the Liberal government had reached a deal to keep the refinery in "warm idle mode" over the winter, which meant a restart could happen quicker if the opportunity presented itself.

In recent years, the refinery has represented as much as five per cent of the province's economy.

"Since COVID struck, the refinery has been just barely running," Thomas said.

"It's hurting a lot of our members in the area, and it's also hurting everybody in the province.… We need to get this up and running again."

CBC News has requested an interview with the United Steelworkers.

A Silverpeak spokesperson said North Atlantic Refinery cannot comment on specific negotiations with the union.

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