UK govt bears blame for Coryton refinery closure – politician

19 June 2012 20:31  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The failure to prevent the closure of the 220,000 bbl/day refinery at Coryton in Essex is largely the fault of the UK government, a British politician said on Tuesday.

“The failure to find a buyer for the refinery is lamentable given the high level of initial interest and the success elsewhere in Europe of selling off the other bankrupt Petroplus plants,” said Richard Howitt, a British member of the European parliament.

“And the real failure is that of the government – whilst the French immediately put in state aid to support their refinery [at Petit Couronne] in trouble, the British government has not even formally consulted the European Commission about the option of state support,” Howitt said.

“I hope a last minute rescue is possible as no one wants to see these jobs lost and the refining capacity lost to the UK,” Howitt added.

"Coryton is a highly regarded refinery operation and it would be a sad day to see the plant used solely as a storage facility,” he said.

Switzerland-based Petroplus filed for insolvency in January after lenders froze critical credit lines. The insolvency affected Petroplus’s five refineries in Europe, including the one in the UK.

The company's refineries in Switzerland, Belgium and Germany have been sold to oil trading firms.

In France, the Petit Couronne near Rouen in northwest France recently restarted operations after Shell agreed to supply the unit for a limited time. Industrial group Klesch has submitted a bid for the plant but a sale has not yet been finalised.

Additional reporting by Leigh Stringer

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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