NewsNorth AfricaMorocco : Court puts oil refiner Samir into liquidation - company source, media


Posted on Monday, 21 March 2016 13:24

Morocco : Court puts oil refiner Samir into liquidation - company source, media

By Aziz El Yaakoubi,

Photo©ReutersA Moroccan court has placed the country's only oil refiner Samir into liquidation and named an independent trustee, a company source and local media said on Monday.

Samir has 10 days to lodge an appeal against the decision, business news website Medias24 reported. The company said it had no immediate comment.

Samir, controlled by Corral Petroleum Holdings, halted production last August at its 200,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Mohammedia refinery.

Morocco's tax administration has since frozen the company's bank accounts in pursuit of a 13 billion-dirham ($1.3 billion) tax claim. The Moroccan government has said Samir's total debt is around 44 billion dirhams ($4.55 billion).

The company warned on Friday it expected to report a wider loss for 2015 after the production halt and its bank accounts were frozen. It said it is still paying salaries and social contributions for its 1,200 workers.

Hussin al-Yamani, leader of the oil and gas wing of trade union CDT, said another 5,000 workers employed by sub-contractors will lose their jobs. "The government should take its responsibilities. They have been promising solutions for months, now it is time to announce them," he said.

As Morocco's only refinery, its closure would make the country entirely reliant on imports.

At just under 300,000 barrels per day, Morocco's petroleum consumption is Africa's fifth largest, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Saudi billionaire Mohammed al-Amoudi, owner of Corral Holdings which controls 67.26 pct of Samir, has been negotiating with the Moroccan government, but talks have failed so far to find a solution to the refinery's crisis.

Morocco's government has said it will do everything possible to recover unpaid taxes and protect the refinery's workers. 

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