Shell Puget Sound refinery

Steam exhaust rises from the Shell Puget Sound Refinery in December. The company’s parent company announced Thursday that the refinery is for sale.

ANACORTES — Shell Puget Sound Refinery on March Point is for sale, the refinery’s parent company announced Thursday.

Shell Oil Products U.S., a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, is seeking a buyer for two U.S. refineries — the Anacortes refinery and a refinery in Mobile, Alabama, according to a Thursday news release.

The news release states that the process may take months and may not result in a sale. The company stated it may elect to take the refineries off the market at any time.

“If the marketing process does not result in a finalized sales transaction, Shell plans to continue operating the refineries,” the news release states.

The company stated that the decision to sell the Anacortes and Mobile refineries was based on “the company’s previously disclosed plans to reshape its refining portfolio globally to leverage Shell’s natural strengths and integration opportunities.”

“Both refineries have done an excellent job over the last number of years and have made several notable achievements in safety, reliability and performance,” Robin Mooldijk, executive vice president of manufacturing for Shell, said in the release.

John Sternlicht, CEO of the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County, said Shell’s move to sell the refinery does not come as a surprise.

“It fits with Shell’s companywide strategy of divesting itself of resources like these refineries,” he said. “This is not a statement on doing business in Skagit County.”

Sternlicht said if the refinery gets a new owner, the name will change but operations are likely to stay largely the same — similar to when Marathon Petroleum, March Point’s other refinery, bought Andeavor, formerly Tesoro, in 2018.

Shell Puget Sound Refinery employs about 500 people and pays $75 million in annual wages, and is one of the county’s largest employers and its single largest taxpayer, according to the company’s website.

{span}Sternlicht said the refinery also provides community support. {/span}

“We eventually hope a new owner will provide all those things as well, and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens,” he said.

Shell Puget Sound Refinery can process 145,000 barrels (5.7 million gallons) of crude oil a day and produces gasoline, diesel fuel, propane, jet fuel, petroleum coke and other products.

Crude oil arrives at Shell by tanker and pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope and from central and western Canada. The refinery had proposed an oil-by-rail project in 2013, but called it off in 2016.

The refinery was opened on March Point in 1958 by Texaco.

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison: jallison@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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