Essex: Coryton Refinery 'To Be Closed'

An oil refinery in Essex which went bust is to close after administrators failed to find a buyer or the cash needed to keep it going, putting around 850 jobs at risk.

The Coryton plant at Corringham, which supplies 20% of fuel in London and the South East, was plunged into administration earlier this year by its Swiss owner Petroplus.

Administrators PwC said the site would be wound down over the next three months after the challenge of raising the £625 million needed to fund the refinery proved too much.

There are likely to be a "substantial" number of redundancies among the 500 workforce, PwC said, while around 350 contractors will learn their fate in the next few days.

Steven Pearson, Joint Administrator and partner with PwC, commented: "Together with the PRML management and the PRML creditors' committee, we have worked tirelessly to explore all feasible options for the refinery. We have had contact with over 100 possible investors and purchasers. We have been unable to reach a deal to date.

"The current financing market is exceptionally difficult - capital is short and expensive.Prospective investors in the refinery faced a significant capital expenditure need, as well as a fragile market for refined oil products. These factors have conspired against us in trying to structure a deal.

"I would like to thank the management, the employees, contractors, customers and suppliers for their support and solidarity during the past four months.  Without their commitment we would not have been afforded the opportunity to continue the business and explore a going concern solution."

Phil Whitehurst, GMB national lead officer for Engineering Construction, said: "This is a devastating blow for jobs in the local economy in Essex, for the UK energy sector and for the UK economy as a whole.

"This is yet another anarchical outcome adversely impacting on the UK's basic energy infrastructure arising from financial developments with their owners which are unrelated to UK needs.''

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "It is disappointing that PwC has been unable to find a buyer for Coryton. This is particularly bad news for the workers at Coryton.

"I want to reassure people that there will not be any impact on fuel supply from this development.

"Continuing jetty operations at Coryton means that there should be no loss of supply through the terminal to London and the South East.''