Texas oil refiner Valero Energy Corp. is seeking to eliminate 100 jobs, or 18 percent of its workforce, at its Paulsboro refinery through retirement incentives. The company disclosed the plan today to the Gloucester County refinery's 550 employees.
The job cuts are the latest hardship for a U.S. refinery industry reeling from overcapacity because of the recession and a move away from gas-guzzling vehicles.
Sunoco Inc., the largest refiner in the Northeast, announced Tuesday that it would indefinitely idle its Eagle Point refinery in Gloucester County, which employs 400 full-time workers and hires hundreds of independent contractors.
In September, Valero said it would idle two units at its Delaware City, Del., refinery, eliminating about 150 jobs. Valero has 16 refineries in the United States, Canada, and Aruba.
Valero said it did not expect to lay off employees in Paulsboro because it is aiming incentives at those near retirement and enhancing retirement benefits for those eligible to retire, company spokesman Bill Day said.
"We expect this offer to be popular," he said. He declined to disclose the offer.
Union as well as salaried workers would be targeted, Day said.
"While we have already taken action by shutting down Aruba and the gasification and coker units at Delaware City, which were incurring substantial losses, more must be done," Valero chief executive officer Bill Klesse told employees. "We will be pursuing cost reductions at Paulsboro and will be aggressively pursuing strategic alternatives for these facilities."
The announcement was the third blow this week for Gloucester County. The U.S. Postal Service said it would close its distribution facility in Logan Township by March. That plant has about 650 employees, plus seasonal workers.