A financially troubled Bakersfield refinery appeared headed for a prolonged shutdown after management on Wednesday informed workers that it hadn't been able to cut a deal with crude oil suppliers to keep the facility operating.
The plant, owned by Big West of California, has been crippled by the Dec. 22 bankruptcy filing of its parent, Flying J Inc. of Ogden, Utah. Management began shutting down operations in late December after suppliers stiffened credit terms, and it couldn't come up with cash to buy inventory.
"We will be winding down operations at the facility," while negotiations continue with suppliers, Fred Greener, Big West executive vice president, wrote in a memo to union workers.
That means job cuts are imminent, said Kevin Cable, committee chairman for the United Steelworkers, which has 140 members working at the plant with 100 contract employees. Consumer advocates have been sounding the alarm about the Bakersfield plant, which supplies about 2% of the state's gasoline and 6% of its diesel -- enough to affect prices in California, where refining capacity is perpetually tight.