Breaking News
More () »

Safety first at Oregon oil refinery reopening in May, Cenovus says

Cenovus spokespeople said safety is a priority during a restoration project to prepare the refinery for a projected reopening in May.

TOLEDO, Ohio — The former BP-Husky Toledo Refinery in Oregon has a new owner and new name. As of Tuesday, the facility is now called the Cenovus Toledo Refinery and is under the ownership and operation of Calgary, Canada-based Cenovus Energy Inc.

The goal is to have the refinery operating again in May. It has been shut down since a September 2022 fire killed two employees.

BP, the refinery's previous owner, sold its remaining 50% stake to Cenovus in August 2022. The remaining half Cenovus acquired is worth about $370 million.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and United Steelworkers union have all conducted investigations into the fatal fire that killed brothers Ben and Max Morrissey.

"The findings were focused on system and equipment improvements that we needed to make in order to improve the safety of the facility," Cenovus spokesperson Heidi Hurst said. said.

A restoration project focusing on where the fire started is underway and needs to finish before the refinery can reopen, Cenovus spokesperson Doreen Cole said.

Part of the reopening will be "checking in on units that were outside of the restoration project ... once that project is completed then those remaining units will be started up as well," Cole said.

Cole and Hurst said the restoration's main focus is on safety.

"We protect what matters and obviously our people are most important to us," Hurst said.

In the six months since the fire, multiple area organizations have hosted events and raised money for the Morrissey family, as both left behind a wife and children.

"The loss of Ben and Max was horrible. No family should ever have to go through that," Hurst said. "There is a firm commitment from us to understand all that we need to do and to implement those findings to make sure no family has to go through that again that works at this facility."

USW Local 1-346 President Jim Witt said the union and new owners are off on the right foot.

"They handled the contract, they accepted all terms of our (collective bargaining agreement) through successorship, everything stays in place," Witt said.

He's optimistic for the future of the refinery because Cenovus' priorities align with those of the union, he said.

"All things that they've told us, what they're beliefs are, we'll hold them to that," Witt said. "But it's important that they're talking that way because that would be everyone's concern."

Before You Leave, Check This Out