French govt to support efforts to find buyer for Petroplus refinery

26 September 2012 21:19  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--France’s government will support efforts to find a buyer for the 161,800 bbl/day Petit Couronne refinery near Rouen in northwest France, but it will not buy the facility, a minister said on Wednesday,

Administrators have been trying to sell the refinery following the insolvency of Switzerland-based independent refiner Petroplus early this year.

The insolvency hit Petroplus' five refineries in Europe. However, administrators have been able to sell the company's refineries in Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, and they sealed a deal to convert a refinery in the UK into a terminal.

In televised remarks during a visit to Petit Couronne on Wednesday, Arnaud Montebourg, France’s minister for industrial renewal, assured workers of the government’s support.

However, Montebourg ruled out that the state could acquire the plant.

“The government doesn’t have the technical expertise, and it doesn’t have the money in these times of tight budgets,” he said.

French media reported that there are two possible bidders for the plant - Hong Kong-based Alafandi Petroleum Group and Dubai-based Netoil.

However, according to a notice on Alafandi’s website, the company provisionally withdrew its bid last month to clarify “newly discovered information that could jeopardise this transaction process”.

Petit Couronne recently restarted operations after Shell agreed to supply the unit for a limited time. Shell had sold the refinery to Petroplus in 2008. The plant employs about 550 people.

The plant supplies a number of downstream customers in the chemical industry, including French plants of US-based lubricants additives major Lubrizol.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
+1 713 525 2653

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