Canada-based Imperial Oil has announced plans to convert its Dartmouth refinery located in Nova Scotia (NS) into a terminal and continue to serve the east coast markets of the country.

The company took the decision following failed attempts to sell the refinery and continue operating the facility.

Dartmouth refinery started production in 1918 and has an output capacity of about 88,000 barrels per day. Almost 200 employees and 200 contractors work at the refinery and related terminals.

The conversion is expected to have minimal changes to the operation of the related terminals located at Dartmouth, NS, Sydney, NS, Corner Brook, NL, Sept-Iles, QC and Cap aux Meules in the Magdalen Islands.

Imperial Oil chairman and CEO Rich Kruger said it is difficult to operate a refinery of Dartmouth’s scale in the competitive conditions of the Atlantic Basin market.

"We recognize that closing the refinery is a difficult decision for our employees and the local community. We will make every reasonable effort to minimize the impact," Kruger added.

"Our focus in the near term will be on continued safe and environmentally sound operations while making facility modifications that will support ongoing supply of competitively priced petroleum products to the market."

The initial start-up of the converted facilities has been planned for later in 2013, based on progress with facility modifications in the coming months.