Monday, 16 January 2012

Shell site closure

Just over two weeks into the year, and the first large round of chemistry job cuts have been announced in the UK. The Guardian broke the news yesterday that the Shell Technology Centre in Thornton, Cheshire, will be closed in 2014, with the loss of around 280 jobs.

R&D efforts will instead be concentrated in Hamburg, Germany and other overseas sites. There could also be relocation of some staff to other UK sites, including London and Manchester.

Local newspaper the Chester Chronicle had already reported in May last year that the site was earmarked for closure, saying “Shell assembled the 500-strong workforce in a marquee on the car park ... to explain the shutting of the laboratory”. At the time, 200 jobs were thought to be at risk and “speculation is half the workforce will go within two years.” The latest announcement confirms the fate of those remaining.

A job advert from the archives of New Scientist indicates that the Thornton Research Centre (as it was known then) employed around 700 people in 1988. At the time, the advert was also able to specify the chemists, physicists and mechanical engineers be aged 24-30 – something unthinkable now.

According to the UK corporate website, the R&D centre “has a large community of scientists involved in a wide range of research projects, including technologies associated with fuels, lubricants, additives, engineering and the environment.” Good luck to you all.

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