Hotels and restaurants in the Pascagoula area are about to get a major boost to business this spring as scheduled maintenance at the Chevron Pascagoula Refinery brings thousands of contractors to Jackson County.
Maintenance is an ongoing process at the Pascagoula Refinery, said Alan Sudduth, manager of policy, government and public affairs at the refinery. These maintenance periods are called turnarounds and he said, “Sometimes, like this year, the scheduled maintenance for several processing units overlap, which results in a concentration of planned maintenance work occurring over a set period.”
The 1,580 employees will continue to work during the turnarounds, Sudduth said. The work won’t provide additional local jobs at the refinery, since Chevron contracts with companies to meet the temporary increase in labor needs during its turnarounds, he said.
“Depending on the amount of work scheduled at any one time, there may be 500 to around 3,000 additional contractors onsite. This is common in our industry,” he said, “and there are skilled, specialized laborers who travel from one facility to another completing this temporary work.”
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He said Chevron supports local workforce development programs and provides scholarships for the Process Operations Technology program and Maintenance Process Technologies program at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to help grow the local pool of qualified candidates for skilled positions like these.
Chevron also supplies its labor contractors with information for local hotels, restaurants and rental properties, and Sudduth said, “An influx of hundreds of temporary workers to our area can have a tremendous positive economic impact,” he said.
The Pascagoula Refinery is Chevron’s largest wholly-owned refinery and is one of the top petroleum refineries in the United States, according to the company’s website. It processes 330,000 barrels, or 13.9 million gallons, of crude oil a day and in 2016, the refinery had a direct local economic impact of $746 million a year.
Two years ago in the spring of 2016, several thousand contractors were at Chevron’s Pascagoula Refinery for 3 to 4 months to perform maintenance. Employees continued to work while the maintenance was under way and in some cases received additional hours.
Sudduth said Chevron cannot confirm a timeline for when the maintenance turnarounds will occur or be completed this year. “We can confirm that we will continue to supply product to our customers,” he said.
Gasoline and diesel consumption are up this winter, along with prices, and oil analysts attribute it in part to strong economic growth.
“Oil’s rally of more than $12 a barrel compared to this time last year can be traced to strong gasoline and diesel demand which has risen 5.4 percent and 15.3 percent respectively from the same period in January 2017,” said Dan McTeague, a senior petroleum analyst. “Underpinning these dramatic increases in demand is the unmistakable rebound in domestic U.S. economic activity, which appears to be happening in other major world economies including Europe and Asia,” he said.