Coryton: No Change On Refinery Ownership

26 January 2012, 07:24 | Updated: 26 January 2012, 18:14

There is no present case for reviewing Britain's "open door" policy on foreign investment in UK-based oil refineries after an Essex refinery was placed into administration, the Energy Secretary has said.

Chris Huhne's comments came as shadow energy and climate change minister Tom Greatrex asked if he was "concerned" at the "significant" amount of overseas ownership of such sites.

Petrol delivery trucks were once again rolling from the gates of Coryton oil refinery on Thursday morning after a shutdown triggered when the site collapsed into administration.

The Essex refinery's administrators, PwC, said after discussions with suppliers and customers, who include BP, they had started shipments of refined oil products with immediate effect, easing fears over fuel shortages.

The site, which supplies 20% of fuel in London and the South East, halted sales after its Swiss owner Petroplus placed the refinery into administration, prompting fears of up to 1,000 job losses.

Mr Greatrex said: "Whilst it's good news this morning the tankers have now resumed distribution from the refinery, could the minister update the House as to whether oil is also now being delivered to the refinery to undertake refining activity?"

Mr Huhne replied: "There is indeed a cargo ready to be delivered this morning and there have been contingency back-ups in order to try and ensure... I know BP have been working on this closely with us, and I very much hope that normal activity will be resumed."

Mr Greatrex referred the "850 jobs" at risk, adding: "Given the significant role played by UK-based refineries in providing energy resilience, is he concerned that the ownership of such a significant amount of UK-based refineries are now overseas?"

Mr Huhne replied: "We have traditionally benefited enormously from our open door policy, both under the last government and previous governments to foreign investment and indeed we own a very substantial amount of investment in other countries.

"I think the swiftness of the arrangements that have been put in place suggest that there is not at this stage a case for reviewing that policy"