WORKERS at Shell’s Thornton research centre fear more than 200 jobs will go in the run-up to the closure of the base.
Shell assembled the 500-strong workforce in a marquee on the car park on Monday to explain the shutting of the laboratory, which develops new fuel and oil products.
It has not been revealed how many technicians will lose their jobs when lab work transfers to Hamburg, Germany, but speculation is half the workforce will go within two years.
Office-based scientists will continue to be based at Thornton who will commission research from Shell's other labs around the world.
Researchers have told The Chronicle they believe the whole centre will eventually close although Shell says there will be a ‘presence at Thornton for the foreseeable future’.
One scientist, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Thornton produces the fuel and lubricants for Ferrari racing cars. That’s the level. It’s top end technology and Britain is losing it. Schumacher and Alonso have both been on site.”
Shell has begun a consultation process about the changes but says there are ‘no immediate and definite staff impacts’.
Spokesman Ed Brady said in the event of job losses there would ‘opportunities for job transfer’ to Germany and other locations.
Mr Brady added: “The review found there was considerable duplication and under-utilised assets at both Thornton and Hamburg, with scope for consolidation.
“Our proposals exist to transfer work to Hamburg, this has been driven by such factors as proximity to key automotive customers.”
The Thornton research centre is not involved in the sale of Shell’s Stanlow oil refinery to Indian company Essar which is due to be competed later this year.
About 150 contractors work at Thornton in addition to the permanent workforce.