Pandemic prompts Petronor to propose furlough for 30% of oil refinery staff

MADRID, March 30 (Reuters) - Spanish oil refiner Petronor, majority-owned by Repsol, has proposed a furlough scheme for one third of its 900 employees in response to a sharp fall in fuel demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The facility in Bilbao, northern Spain, has been processing crude at 60% capacity for 271 days, the company said on Monday, during which time it offered training to keep employees active.

Unable to keep this up, the company said it would now start negotiations with labour representatives to decide on temporary layoffs until the end of 2021.

“The current uncertainty about a return to mobility, primarily depending on the vaccination process, makes it impossible to predict when the refinery can go back to functioning normally,” the statement said.

Petronor said it thought the situation was temporary and it was continuing to work towards a future in the low-carbon energy industry.

The refinery has capacity to process 220,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Edmund Blair