Today’s (Tuesday 31 January’s) announcement that oil has been delivered to the Coryton refinery for the first time since its parent company went bankrupt a week ago, has been described as an important breakthrough by the Essex Euro MP who is tonight leading a lobby of the European Commission in Brussels to help find a long-term solution to keep the refinery open.
Labour’s Richard Howitt MEP said the deal will buy important breathing space, but says government guarantees could play a vital role in Britain and other countries to attract potential buyers.
A lobby of Euro MPs led by Britain’s Richard Howitt MEP will this evening tell Commissioner Gunther Oettinger that despite today’s deal production at Coryton in Britain and in Germany remains at threat, and will ask the European Commission to show its willingness to back financial guarantees of “contingent risk” if they are offered by the British or other governments under EU “state-aid” rules.
Labour’s Richard Howitt MEP who has held direct discussions with the Receiver, Britain’s Department of Energy and Climate Change and British and European trade unions in the run-up to today’s announcement said:
“It is an enormous relief and credit to everyone involved that an oil tanker moored at sea and workers desperately waiting for delivery have both had their long wait ended.
“But every day counts and what is important now is that the extra time with the refinery in operation is used to negotiate a purchase or a new investor which secures Coryton and its workforce for the long-term.”
Speaking about the proposal for financial guarantees to be put to the European Commission tonight, Richard Howitt MEP added:
“This is not a hand-out but a guiding hand, and one that could make all the difference between Coryton securing a new buyer or risking long-term closure.
“The European Commission must recognise the strategic importance of Petroplus for oil supply in Britain and across Europe, as well as the devastating impact of loss of jobs on this scale and they must act now – before it is too late.
“Any new buyer will still have to take on normal commercial risk, but in an operation with high complexity and costs, a state-backed ‘insurance policy’ against unexpected losses at the time of purchase could oil the wheels of a deal at a time it is desperately needed.
Pressing the case for the Essex Coryton refinery in particular, Richard Howitt MEP concludes;
“Having visited the Coryton refinery on several occasions, my message to Commission Oettinger today is that this is a profitable and efficient refinery with a capacity of 220,000 barrels a day which must pay a key part of Europe’s economic recovery.
“The Coryton refinery cannot end up being the fall guy for a Swiss pipe dream but must have a new future as a British and European industrial champion.”