A recent report by the fuel market industry shows that a weakened U.S. refining industry could spell opportunity for foreign oil companies wanting to enter the world’s biggest fuel market or to buy plants on the cheap. Although this report may sound good to those wanting to buy into the oil industry, this report also could spell doom for the workers in the U.S. that make the fuel industry run and make large profits for its owners. Apparently, in 2009 the U.S. refining industry struggled greatly and refiners now face pressure to unload more plants.
Historically, Texas refiners have shown to suffer greater cuts in area of safety when the economy takes a down turn. This was evident more recently in 2005 when the BP explosion investigation showed that the company had slashed the budget almost 25% across the board in order to save money during troubled economic times, which included safety cuts. The explosion that followed caused death and devastation in record proportions.
The unfortunate circumstance in all this is that when companies decide to cut their budget in the area of safety, the folks that suffer most are the refinery workers themselves. When a company puts profits before safety, that formula almost always spells doom for workers. Analysts speculate that more plants will need to shut down in order to lift profits from today’s low levels of fuel production. U.S. refiners now process less than 14 million barrels of crude daily, well below capacity of 17.8 million barrels per day.
For almost 65 years, our firm has represented folks injured in petrochemical plant explosions and disasters. We hope that this latest report is not a predictor for tough times to come for the workers in the Houston-Beaumont-Texas City-Galveston areas.