Crown Central cuts output at Texas plants

Md. company blames low oil, gas prices in curtailing refineries

February 03, 1999|By William Patalon III | William Patalon III,SUN STAFF

Crown Central Petroleum Corp. said yesterday that it is reducing output at its two Texas refineries because of low oil and gasoline prices.

Baltimore-based Crown said it has trimmed crude-oil processing by 10 percent at its Tyler, Texas, plant, which can process 52,000 barrels of oil per day.

And it said its Pasadena, Texas, refinery, the site of a long and costly union lockout, would continue processing 70,000 barrels a day -- 30 percent below its capacity of 100,000 barrels.

Production at the Pasadena plant had been cut back for several weeks as Crown performed maintenance work on a gasoline-making unit known as a fluid catalytic cracker. The unit was set to come back on line Monday, but the company opted to continue the production cutback.

"It's prudent, given current market conditions" with low oil and gasoline prices, said Joseph M. Coale, Crown's director of corporate communications.

No layoffs are planned at this point, Coale said.

The Pasadena refinery has been manned by replacement workers since Feb. 6, 1996, when Crown locked out 252 union workers after a contract squabble escalated. The company says the workers were sabotaging the refinery, an allegation the union denies.

Crown has been under fire from the union -- now known as the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union -- and shareholders, who include many union members.

In December, shareholders -- including some locked-out union members -- sued company executives and the board of directors, alleging gross financial mismanagement. A key reason: During the greatest bull market in stock market history, Crown shares have fallen from $36.625 in 1989 to $7.6875 yesterday.

Pub Date: 2/03/99

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