PETROPLUS, Europe’s largest oil refinery, based in Corringham, is set to file for bankruptcy and close down all petrol supplies.
The decision comes after it defaulted on $1.75 billion of loans and sees over a 1000 jobs now under real threat.
In a short statement, Petroplus said: “The primary goal of Petroplus’ Board of Directors is to ensure that operations are safely shut down and to preserve value for all stakeholders,”
Petroplus, Europe’s largest independent oil refinery by capacity, had been in intense talks with its lenders over recent weeks after they withdrew credit last month.
The refinery is a key source of petrol for the south-east, with over twenty per cent of all supplies coming from there.
The Manorway in Corringham is usually packed with petrol tankers travelling to and from the massive refinery in the far south-east corner of the borough.
An email seen by the Financial Times which was sent to customers by a marketing manager at Coryton said sales from the refinery had been suspended “with immediate effect”.
It said management was “unsure when supplies will be recommenced.”
MEP Richard Howitt, who had lobbied extensively to help the plant said he now fears for the 1000 workers at the plant.
He said: “The suspension of shares comes as a complete surprise and, following on from the company’s talks both with banks and possible alternative business partners which have been held in almost complete secrecy, have left all of us campaigning for Coryton’s future fearing the worst,”
Mr Howitt said. “With Coryton unable to let delivery lorries leave its premises, it is clear this is now ‘make or break’ both for the refinery and for its parent company.”
Analysts told the FT that the shortfall could be made up with deliveries from the Esso Fawley refinery in Southampton and Total’s Lindsey plant in North Lincolnshire, as well as imported products.
BP, which used to own Coryton and sold it to Petroplus in 2007 for $1.4bn, had earlier been in talks to throw the plant a lifeline by supplying it with crude and receiving refined products as payment.
A BP spokesman said the company was “seeking clarification” from Petroplus about the status of Coryton. “We are monitoring the situation very closely,” he said, adding that there were “no immediate supply issues across our retail network.”