The Shell oil refinery in Convent is up for sale but could face closure if the company doesn't find a buyer as it consolidates its refinery portfolio from 14 sites to only six by 2025.
Shell warned local officials several months ago that it was testing the market for the potential sale of the Convent site, located between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and its associated facilities.
"We've had success (with asset sales) in the past in difficult markets. If it's not possible, we'll consider closing and shutting down," Chief Financial Officer Jessica Uhl said during a conference call with analysts and investors.
The company does expect to keep "refinery capacity in the key markets tied to our chemical business," she said.
Shell plans to consolidate its assets into six energy and chemical parks, which includes the Norco site near New Orleans. Other sites are in Deer Park, Texas; The Netherlands; Singapore; Germany; and Canada. The new petrochemical parks are expected to be located near existing complexes, such as Shell's Geismar site in Ascension Parish.
The goal is for the refineries to be more integrated with the chemical complexes and produce more biofuels, hydrogen and synthetic fuels, executives told investors.
Other refineries under review for potential sale or closure include Puget Sound, Washington, and Mobile, Alabama, along with ones in Canada and Denmark.
The Convent refinery sits on 4,400 acres that straddles Ascension and St. James parishes and can process 240,000 barrels of crude oil per day. It employs 700 Shell workers and 400 contract workers. The processing equipment connected to the plant is located in St. James Parish and occupies about 900 acres.
Shell's subsidiary, Equilon Enterprises LLC, has $1.18 billion in total taxable value in St. James Parish and paid $18.8 million for the refinery in 2019, tax assessor records show.
The refinery produces various grades of gasoline; jet fuel; diesel fuel and heating oil; propane and butane for residential and industrial use; and oil for tankers, power generation and vehicles.
The facility has access to multiple major crude oil and product pipelines, which ship gasoline, diesel, kerosene and jet fuel. The site’s location on the Mississippi River allows shipping and receiving petroleum products aboard ocean-going vessels. The refinery uses two docks along 6,000 feet of Mississippi River access.
The Convent refinery began operations in 1967 as a Texaco refinery. In 1998, a joint venture was formed between Texaco, Saudi Refining and Shell Oil Co. under the name Motiva. In 2001, Texaco was purchased by Chevron and its interest in Motiva was sold to Shell Oil and Saudi Refining Inc. in 2002. A separation of the joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco in 2017 resulted in the Convent refinery being fully owned and operated by Royal Dutch Shell.