VALERO Energy’s investment in the UK oil refining industry and the Welsh economy has been highlighted this week, as Pembroke Refinery hosted company directors and senior executives in a landmark visit.

Valero, based in San Antonio, Texas, is the world’s largest independent refiner, and acquired Pembroke refinery in 2011.

The board of directors and executive team, led by chairman and CEO Bill Klesse, visited Pembroke on Monday (September 16) for a series of events to celebrate Valero’s business in Pembrokeshire and the UK.

During their visit, the twenty-strong delegation toured the facilities at the refinery, met with senior refinery leaders, and enjoyed a special lunch with members of staff.

During lunch guests were treated to a performance by Côr Meibion De Cymru, singing famous Welsh and American songs and hymns.

And in a surprise announcement, invited representatives of three charities with strong links to the refinery were each presented with cheques for £25,000 by Klesse.

The charities – Wales Air Ambulance, T? Hafan and Macmillan Cancer Support – have all previously been voted Pembroke refinery’s charity of the year, from 2011 to 2013 respectively.

At the culmination of the visit on Monday evening, the board of directors hosted a prestigious dinner and reception in the grounds of Pembroke Castle, with guests including First Minister Carwyn Jones, Carmarthen and South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart, Archdeacon of St David’s Diocese Dennis Wight and other civic leaders.

First Minister Mr Jones said: “The investment made by Valero in Pembrokeshire shows their belief in Wales and our work force.

“Valero is one of the leading employers in South Wales, providing high quality jobs and benefiting the wider economy by supporting contractors and suppliers from across the country.

“This visit confirms their commitment to Wales and I look forward to working with the company to ensure this relationship goes from strength-to-strength.”

Mr Klesse said, “When Valero entered the European market for the first time in 2011, we were all struck by the amazing enthusiasm and dedication of the Pembroke workforce, and the great opportunities there were to do business here in Wales and the UK.

“This visit underlines the commitment Valero has to Pembrokeshire’s energy industry, both as a major employer and also as an active member of the local community.”

Pembroke Refinery general manager Ed Tomp added: “As we look forward to our 50th anniversary next year, this visit is a huge vote of confidence by the board of directors in the work being done here at Pembroke and the UK.

“A visit such as this emphasises how important Valero sees its future in Pembrokeshire, Wales and the UK.”