Coryton oil refinery set to close within three months

The Coryton plant has been administration since January

Hundreds of jobs have been put at risk after administrators announced the closure of an oil refinery in Essex.

The Coryton plant was placed into administration by its Swiss owner Petroplus in January.

Administrators said it was likely there would be "substantial" redundancies among the 500-strong workforce.

The "closure process" is expected to take up to three months. The plant supplies 20% of fuel in London and the South East.

About 350 contractors who work on the site will learn their fate in the next few days.

'Fragile market'

Administrator PwC said the challenge of raising the £625m needed to fund the refinery had proved too difficult.

Steven Pearson, joint administrator and partner with PwC, said: "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."

Administrators said discussions regarding a possible sale would continue.

Petroplus Refining Teesside, which operates an oil storage site on Teesside and a research and development site in Swansea, is also "likely" to be "impacted" by the decision, administrators said.

Both sites employ about 60 people.

'Very valuable jobs'

A Unite union official linked to the Coryton refinery said the closure was a "massive blow" to the local community.

"We are extremely disappointed," said a spokesman for the union.

"This should never have been allowed to happen. This is a massive, massive blow."

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said the closure would not impact on fuel supplies.

"Closure of the refinery reflects overcapacity in the European refining sector and... a number of refineries have closed across Europe in recent years," he said.

Conservative MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock Stephen Metcalfe said there was still chances the jobs could be saved even if they "were slim".

"The government will continue to offer support in the hope we can still find a solution to the problem and secure the future and these very valuable jobs," he said.

'Severe impacts'

Labour's Richard Howitt, a Labour Member of the European Parliament, said: "The news is unexpected from a workforce who always believed they could succeed and flies in the face of everything we have worked hard to achieve."

John Kent, leader of Thurrock Council - where the refinery is based, said: "We would be very disappointed if all the hard work by the administrators finished here.

"But it seems there is still some hope as the administrators say they are still looking for new buyers.

"If the worst happens it will have severe impacts on the borough, not just the staff immediately affected and their families, but those involved in the supply chain and further afield too and that is why this is the time for us to prepare."

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