Tesoro Hawaii Begins Layoffs

Disposition of 32 stations still not known

HONOLULU -- Tesoro Hawaii sent layoff notices to a "handful" of employees this week as it continued talks with prospective buyers to sell its Kapolei refinery, company spokesperson Lance Tanaka told The Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

San Antonio-based Tesoro Corp. has said the Kapolei refinery and 32 Hawaii gas stations are no longer in line with the company's strategic focus.

Tanaka dis not respond by press time to a CSP Daily News request for comment. The company "can't really comment" on the fate of the retail outlets, Tanaka told The Pacific Business Journal in January.

Tanaka told the Star-Advertiser that the company remained in discussion with interested parties to sell the refinery that once employed 240. If a buyer is found, some of the workers may continue with the new owner.

"A small group received notices [June 3]," said Tanaka. Some of the employees who received notices will be laid off on June 17 and others on June 21, said the report.

Tesoro Hawaii had filed a notice with the state on May 10 saying the company plans to lay off 165 workers in three phases at the refinery if the company can't find a buyer for the facility.

On June 3, Senator Brian Schatz (D) released the following statement regarding the layoffs at the Tesoro refinery: "My office has been in constant communication with the Tesoro companies and is working with the relevant state agencies to ensure that unemployment assistance, job placement and other help be provided to the workers that may be laid off. In addition, we are coordinating our efforts with the refinery task force to ensure that there is no disruption in fuel supply in the state of Hawaii, and we are confident for the purposes of Hawaii's economy and the needs of the Department of Defense that fuel will continue to be available.  Our main concern is with the workers and their families, and we will do whatever we can to help them to land on their feet."

Tesoro is the leading supplier of transportation fuels in Hawaii, according to the company's website. It plays a key role in meeting the state's demand for jet and marine fuels, which are critical to the local economy. The refinery can process up to 94,000 barrels per day of crude oil to make gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, ship fuel, asphalt and fuel oil for electrical generation. Tesoro Hawaii distributes refined products statewide. On Oahu, pipelines from the Kapolei refinery feed terminals at Honolulu International Airport, Honolulu Harbor and military installations. Pipelines also deliver products to Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor, where they are transferred to ships and barges that supply the Neighbor Islands. Tesoro sells gasoline and diesel are through a network of Tesoro-branded retail stations on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island, and through distributors.

Tesoro is an independent refiner and marketer of petroleum products. Through its subsidiaries, it operates seven refineries in the western United States with a combined capacity of approximately 665,000 barrels per day. Tesoro's retail-marketing system includes nearly 1,200 branded retail stations, of which more than 375 are company operated under the Tesoro, Shell and USA Gasoline brands.