Arpechim cuts jobs at petrochem plant a year after halting operations

Leading Romanian oil refiner and chemicals producer Arpechim plans to slash several hundred jobs at its petrochemicals plant in Pitesti, a year after the facility formally stopped operating as per PRW. Those under threat of redundancy have been told they will remain on full pay only for another 60 days. The plant at Pitesti makes products including ethylene, propylene, polyethylene and acrylonitrile. The facility can produce up to 200,000 tpa of ethylene and 95,000 tpa of propylene, and is a significant domestic polymer supplier. The future of the plant has been undecided for months as it awaits results of negotiations to sell Arpechim between its parent Petrom and government-owned chemicals producer Oltchim. Petrom, part of the Austrian OMV energy group, wants to divest its inefficient Pitesti petrochemicals plant to Oltchim, a major ethylene customer of Arpechim. If the Oltchim takeover has not been completed in that time, the workers will lose their jobs and receive compensation payments. Oltchim has issued a non-binding offer to acquire the plant where it says it plans to invest around €100m to upgrade the petrochemicals facility. But government delays in proceeding with the takeover have put the Arpechim workers’ jobs in doubt. The picture is complicated by a formal antitrust investigation in Romania launched by the EU Commission into government plans to aid Oltchim in the form of a €135m debt-to-equity swap and a €340m state guarantee.
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