By BEN LEFEBVRE
HOUSTON -- Flint Hills Resources said Wednesday poor refining economics were forcing it
to suspend operations at a major fuel processing unit and lay
off staff at its refinery in North Pole, Alaska.
The refinery is the latest in the US to
either curb production or shut down entirely in the face of
falling fuel demand and rising crude oil costs.
ConocoPhillips, Sunoco, Valero Energy and Western Refining have all idled refineries
in the past several years.
Privately-held Flint Hills said it has already started
idling the 220,000 bpd refinery's No. 1 crude distillation unit, generally the
first unit in the refining process.
Flint Hills idled the Alaska refinery's No. 3 crude unit in
2010 but will continue to run the No. 2 CDU to produce jet
fuel, gasoline, asphalt and specialty fuels for the Alaskan
Idling the unit will force the company to lay off up to 40
of the 151 employees at the refinery over the next five months,
the company said.
The company blamed high crude oil prices and "challenging
"Crude oil prices and Alaska North Slope Crude prices in
particular are very high and are expected to remain that way
for the foreseeable future," Alaska refinery manager Mike Brose
Dow Jones Newswires