A “HIGH-LEVEL” task force is being set up to help secure the future of Murco Milford Haven Refinery, economy minister Edwina Hart has announced today (Friday, April 11).

The task force, led by Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone chairman Lord Nick Bourne, will look at securing the future of refinery operations in Milford Haven and safeguarding the long-term future of the 400 jobs at the plant.

Last week staff were told that a deal to sell the refinery to investment firm Greybull Capital had fallen through and management had entered a period of consultation over its future.

The other members of the task force are yet to be announced, but will include representatives from Murco, Welsh Government, UK Government, Pembrokeshire County Council, the Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone Board and relevant trade unions.

Mrs Hart said: “The Murco refinery is integral to the fabric of the oil and gas infrastructure in Wales and the Welsh economy.

“The Welsh Government is fully aware of the challenges facing the refining sector and has worked very closely with Murco over the past four years to try and secure the ongoing operation of the refinery and protect the jobs at the Milford Haven site.

“The task force will have one clear objective - to engage partners in high-level dialogue to support the company in maintaining the future of refinery operations at the site.”

First Minister Carwyn Jones met managing director Tom McKinlay and the senior management team at Murco on Monday.

Lord Bourne said: “The Murco oil refinery is a very important employer for the local economy in Pembrokeshire and for the energy sector in Wales as well as being of strategic importance to the UK as whole.

“I am very encouraged by the backing of the Welsh Government for this task force and the goodwill amongst everyone involved to ensure a positive outcome.

“I am under no illusions about the work ahead but I will be asking the task force to meet as soon as possible to explore all options for a sustainable future for the refinery.”

Preliminary talks are due to start today with the first task force meeting being set-up within days, Lord Bourne told the Western Telegraph.

He added: “First of all, we’ll be looking at any expressions of interest that there have been to see what mileage there is in those possibilities.

“I will be in listening mode initially, listening to people from the Welsh Government and Pembrokeshire County Council to see how we should proceed to secure those important jobs.

“It’s a massive challenge, but I’m always optimistic. We have got a very, very good work force at Murco. The refinery is a massive asset for Pembrokeshire and we need to make the most of those.

“This is an urgent task and we are getting to work on it straight away.”