FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of LyondellBasell-Houston Refining is seen in Houston, Texas, U.S. August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/File Photo
By Erwin Seba
HOUSTON (Reuters) -The United Steelworkers union (USW) said in a letter to members it was misled by Lyondell Basell Industries about possible buyers for the company’s Houston refinery, which the company has set for permanent closure late this year.
“The International Union has been approached by buyers who say not only are they willing to buy the refinery at a fair market price but have been trying to do so since before the closure notice,” the USW said in a letter seen by Reuters on Saturday that was sent on Friday to members who work at the Lyondell refinery.
According to the letter, the union said it would contact government officials about the would-be buyers of the refinery and take further actions involving union members in the future.
A Lyondell spokesperson was not immediately available on Saturday to discuss the letter.
The letter was signed by Marcos Velez, assistant to the director for USW Region 13, which includes Texas.
Petrochemical maker Lyondell said in April 2022 it would permanently close the 263,776 barrel-per-day (bpd) Houston refinery because it had been unable to find a buyer for the plant which is no longer a necessary part of its global plastics manufacturing operations.
In a July 2022 conference call with Wall Street analysts, Lyondell Chief Executive Peter Vanacker said the company was considering “very large investments” at the site once the refinery closes to make it part of a recycled plastics manufacturing system in the Houston area.
Sources familiar with the matter said Kinder Morgan Inc (NYSE:KMI), which operates a terminal near the refinery, approached Lyondell about possibly buying the refinery along with an undisclosed partner that owned and operated other refineries.
Kinder Morgan spokesperson Amy Baek declined to comment on Saturday.
Lyondell told Kinder Morgan it wasn’t interested in selling, the sources said.
After a purchase, Kinder Morgan planned to operate the refinery’s logistics while the partner would manage production.