Flint Hills Resources is moving closer to shutting its Odessa petrochemical plant.
The company has finalized shutdown plans and has taken some units offline, said Katie Stavinoha, Flint Hills director of public affairs. But only a "small number" of its 395 employees have been let go so far.
While she didn't have an exact figure, Stavinoha said the number of employees released so far was fewer than 20.
The company has a job fair planned for Jan. 14 and has held outplacement workshops to help employees in their job search.
"These events have been well attended," Stavinoha said.
Also progressing is the work of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce Petrochemical Task Force. The group, made up of 13 area business and government leaders, is working to help find a buyer for the 51-year-old plant.
But businessman Charles Perry, a member of the committee, said that's been made difficult by low prices for polypropylene and polyethylene.
"Finding a buyer is not a real option with the price of commodities," Perry said.
Instead, Perry said it's likely Flint Hills will sell what it can of the plant for parts and components.
"Basically liquidate it," he said.
With Flint Hills employees being offered severance packages based on service time, it's limiting the amount of work the Chamber is doing in helping them find other jobs at this point, said Arleene Loyd, the Chamber's director of business retention and expansion. But that should change as the plant gets closer to being shuttered.
"It's a little tense because no one knows their scheduled layoff dates," she said.
Stavinoha said "employee reductions" would occur over several months in several phases. Some will remain after its shutdown is complete in May, both for customer service and support with Flint Hills' other plants, and to help in decommissioning activities.
The shutdown was announced Nov. 5 in reaction to reviews that determined Flint Hills lacked the capital revenue to make the plant competitive globally.
State Rep. Tryon Lewis, R-Odessa, said he joined the task force although he's not sure the state will have a direct role in the situation. But, with jobs being lost in the petrochemical industry across Texas, it's an issue that has an impact on the entire state.
"As things develop, we'll find out (the state's role). The main thing is we want to be there to coordinate between the city, county and state," Lewis said. "We'll just continue to work on everything we can work on because it's so important."
Flint Hills Job Fair
>> What: Job fair with more than 60 companies invited.
>> When: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 14.
>> Where: Flint Hills Odessa plant.
>> To reserve space: Call Jeff Hawkins at 640-8565 or Quatia Wright at 640-8758.