More Aussie Workers to Lose Jobs as BP Shuts Brisbane Refinery, Boeing Downsizes Melbourne Facility

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By Vittorio Hernandez | April 3, 2014 9:34 AM EST

With the pending shutdown and downsizing of two large multinational employers with facilities in Australia, more Aussie workers would soon lose their jobs, worsening the country's high unemployment rate.

On Wednesday, British Petroleum announced the closure of its Bulwer Island refinery in Brisbane due to losses arising from competition from larger and more cost-effective refineries in Asia.

The plant, which was built in the 1960s and could produce 102,000 barrels of fuel daily, could possibly be converted into a multi-product import terminal, said BP  Australasia President Andy Holmes. The decision to close the plant by mid-2015 came after BP reached the conclusion that the best option left for the oil and gas giant is to buy products from other refineries.

Not all of BP's 380 workers and 300 contractors at Bulwer would lose their jobs since some would be reemployed elsewhere, although BP did not provide more details.

Other oil companies in Australia such as Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil and Caltex have been losing money the past few years and have made changes to how they would use their facilities similar to BP's.

Shell will leave its refining and marketing business in Australia  and sell it for $2.6 billion to Vitol, a global oil trader, while Caltex will convert its Sydney plant into an import terminal.

On the same day, aircraft manufacturer Boeing said it would cut its workforce at the Port Melbourne site by the end of 2014, resulting in about 300 employees losing their jobs.  To be hit hard are mostly fixed-term contractors.

Boeing Aerostructures Australia said in a statement that axing jobs is part of the manufacturing cycle. Most of those who would lose their jobs would be through natural attrition. Boeing would also not fill up open positions as part of its cost-cutting initiative.

The firm has about 1,300 workers at its Melbourne facility, performing design, test, certification and manufacturing tasks of advanced structures for commercial jets. 

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