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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A major U.S. coal mining company has emerged from federal bankruptcy protection under a new name and ownership group.

Murray Energy Holdings said its Chapter 11 plan was approved last month in U.S. bankruptcy court in Ohio and became effective Wednesday. The company said in a statement that it has completed the sale of its assets to an entity formed by former creditors.

The new company, St. Clairsville, Ohio-based American Consolidated Natural Resources Inc., is the largest privately owned U.S. coal operator with active mines in Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Utah, the statement said.

ACNR also has separate management services agreements to operate Foresight Energy mines in Illinois and Murray Energy subsidiary Murray Metallurgical mines.

The new company plans to produce about 35 million tons of bituminous coal annually. In 2018, Murray Energy produced 46.4 million tons and was the country’s fourth largest coal producer, accounting for 6% of total production, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The restructuring eliminated more than $8 billion of Murray’s debt and legacy liabilities, and it allowed the new company to access new financing, providing ACNR with enhanced financial flexibility, the company statement said.

When the bankruptcy filing was announced in October 2019, Robert D. Moore was named president and CEO of Murray Energy, replacing Robert Murray. Moore also heads the new company, which has more than 4,000 employees.

“Throughout these complex proceedings, we have been challenged with a global pandemic, extremely volatile coal markets, and months of uncertainty, Moore said. “Our employees and business partners met these challenges, and, together, moved the company forward to today’s emergence.”

When it filed for bankruptcy last year, Murray Energy joined a growing list of struggling coal producers as utilities switch away from coal to cheaper and less-polluting renewable energy or natural gas. Other major producers to seek bankruptcy protection last year included Blackjewel Mining in West Virginia and Cloud Peak Energy in Wyoming.

Robert Murray had pushed for and received a flurry of regulatory breaks from the Trump administration. The bankruptcy filing marked a significant political failure for President Donald Trump, who had sought to end what he called a “war on coal” by Democrats as a key part of his campaign and early presidency.

ACNR has hired members of the United Mine Workers union who formerly worked at Murray Energy, the union said in a statement. Union members ratified an agreement with ACNR in May.

“There is much to be concerned about for those of us associated with and working in the coal industry during these troubling times, but it is good that this process has finally been completed and our members can put the uncertainty of the bankruptcy behind them,” UMW President Cecil Roberts said.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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Swedish fuel giant stops planned expansion of oil refinery

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Sweden’s largest fuel company said Monday that it has decided to stop a planned oil refinery expansion that would have made it the country’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and was increasingly becoming a hot potato issue for Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s minority government.

Preem said that “the COVID-19 crisis and its effects on the world economy have contributed to the project no longer being commercially sustainable.”

Preem CEO Magnus Heimburg said in a statement that it was “a commercial decision based on a balancing of the project’s profitability and technical feasibility.” He added that “the economic downturn and declining demand for fuel have put pressure on the global refinery industry, including Preem.”

The Swedish government has promised to lower greenhouse gas emissions but also to create more jobs. It had been due to decide whether to allow the expansion of the refinery in Lysekil, in southwestern Sweden, which is already Sweden’s largest. No date had been set for the decision.

Sweden’s Green Party, part of the two-party governing coalition with Lofven’s Social Democrats, was against the expansion, A Swedish court in June had given permission for the project, saying it adhered to European Union rules.

Environmental groups called the plan “a threat to people’s health, the environment and our future.” It was also opposed by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, whose protests outside the Swedish parliament helped inspire a global youth movement for climate protection.

Preem, whose parent company, Corral Petroleum Holdings AB, is owned by Saudi billionaire Mohammed Al Amoudi, had said the additional capacity would have been used to make biodiesel and would not mean more crude oil being processed at the plant.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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