THE future of the troubled Coryton oil refinery hit by the bankruptcy of its European parent company, has been given a new boost with the announcement of possible European Union backing for a rescue on the day 40 “expressions of interest” in a takeover have been revealed.
The European Commission has today (Thursday 2 February) accepted its commitment to make an “appropriate response” to the crisis, setting up a European round table with those affected and responding to fears of permanent closures and the job losses that would result.
The move comes in a letter from European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger to the British, German, French and Belgian Governments, in response to a meeting of Euro MPs from regions where jobs are under threat convened by the Britain’s Richard Howitt MEP who represents the Coryton refinery.
The letter promises a response to a proposal lodged by Labour’s Richard Howitt MEP that the European Commission improves prospects of a successful buyer being found, by endorsing financial guarantees for “contingent risks” by British and other affected Governments as part of hoped-for rescue deals.
The Energy Commissioner promised to consult Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, who would be responsible for giving the green light to any such government assistance under EU ‘state aid’ rules.
In his letter to the British Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Commissioner Oettinger writes the Petroplus bankruptcy “merits attention and discussion at the EU level to assess if there is a need for a coordinated approach which guarantees that restructuring takes place while securing the supply of refined products in the EU.”
Richard Howitt MEP who is today meeting Energy Supply Minister Charles Hendry MP and representatives of the British Receiver from Price Waterhouse Coopers to discuss the prospects of a long-term deal says:
“We want to keep the jobs and business in Coryton and the Commissioner shared his own determination not to lose employment or capacity in the industry, so today Europe has become a full partner in searching for a solution to the Petroplus crisis.
“Governments in France, Belgium and Germany are seriously considering state guarantees which can help make a purchase more attractive to potential buyers without committing public funds in advance, and I hope the British Government will show the same commitment.
“At the heart of the argument is that Coryton is a competitive business in a strategically important location, and short-term action now can secure a long-term profitable business for the future.”