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Refineries to Rely on Automation Amid Strike

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The heart and soul of a modern refinery isn’t the welders and pipefitters with grease on their hands; it’s the white-collar technicians seated at computers in a control room, overseeing the flow and temperature of every tank and valve.

That’s why a workers’ strike that began in nine U.S. refineries Feb. 1 won’t have much effect on fuel production at the plants. It probably will hurt refiners even less than the last strike 35 years ago, which also had a negligible impact on operations, according to industry analysts and consultants.