HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tesoro Corporation is selling the state's largest refinery and its 31 gasoline stations in a deal valued at up to $350 million.
The sale to Par Petroleum of Houston will avert the shutdown of the 94,000 barrel per day Kapolei refinery and will save about 200 jobs.
"(Employees) are feeling relieved. It's a great thing. Its one of those thing we fought hard for and its come to fruition," said Jason Sakamoto, a 22-year refinery employee and former unit chair with United Steelworkers which represents nearly 120 employees.
"Hopefully, this company will be good to us and keep us employed for many years."
In the deal, Par Petroleum will pay $75 million dollars, plus the market value of net working capital, expected to be approximately $225 million to $275 million.
"We are pleased to have reached this positive outcome for the Company," said Greg Goff, President and CEO.
"While the Hawaii operations do not align with our strategic focus, we believe they offer a great opportunity for Par Petroleum."
Hawaii News Now has learned that all current employee termination notices have been rescinded, though it will be up to the refinery's new owners to make future personnel decisions. But sources say that most of the refinery jobs have been saved.
Tesoro says it anticipates completing the sale in the third quarter 2013, subject to regulatory approval.
Lawmaker hope the deal will make Hawaii less susceptible to future shortages and large crude oil price swings.
"Obviously not only will the jobs be (staying) but we will have continuity at least in the production and distribution," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
Added Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa:
"If we were to close one refinery, you can imagine how that would affect the Neighbor Island people. I think it's critical that we keep the refineries operating," she said.
The buyer is very familiar with Hawaii's business community. A sister company owns the HPower Plant at Campbell Industrial Park, which is just a few blocks from the Tesoro refinery.
HPower converts solid waste into electricity used to power tens of thousands of homes on Oahu.
"I think it's a good thing. They know how to do business in Hawaii and they will continue to do business in Hawaii," said Sakamoto.
Par Petroleum will continue to operate the gas stations under the Tesoro brand.
The deal comes nearly six months after Tesoro announced it was shutting down the refinery and would sell its gas stations and terminal facilities to a company that import gasoline to Hawaii.
The shutdown would have left Hawaii with just one refinery: Chevron's 55,000 barrel per day plant, also in Kapolei.