REPRESENTATIVES from the threatened Coryton oil refinery in Thurrock will join their Euro MP at an emergency meeting later today in Brussels (Tuesday 15 May) to seek European action to avert job losses, just 24 hours before the temporary arrangement keeping the plant open is due to expire.
Labour’s Richard Howitt MEP pressed European energy officials to call the meeting, along with fellow Euro MPs from Belgium, France and Germany where refineries from bankrupt, parent company Petroplus are also sited, to discuss possible European help for restructuring the company’s operations which could maintain up to 1,000 jobs at Coryton. Petroplus was Britain and Europe’s biggest independent refinery.
Richard Howitt MEP says a green light from Europe for Government aid may be an essential as part of a rescue package to secure a deal which can maintain Coryton as a profitable, trading company for the future.
A three-month “tolling arrangement” which has maintained refining operations at Coryton pending any long-term deal is due to end at Midnight on Wednesday 16 May.
Labour’s Richard Howitt MEP said:
“The British Government has always said it was keeping an ‘open mind’ about possible direct assistance and this is the crucial meeting in which Britain and the other countries need to pledge help both to obtain agreement under European Union “state aid” rules and to put money on the table to help secure new investment before it is too late.
“The French Government has already awarded nearly £16million towards keeping open its refinery in Normandy, and both the number of jobs affected and the importance for petrol supply merits Britain doing the same.
“When ten per cent of production at Coryton is in the form of environmentally-friendly biofuels, European action to prevent unfair competition from oil refiners from the Middle East and Asia who do not meet the same strict European environmental regulations, can also instil confidence in a potential deal.”
Commenting that there is still no confirmed deal for Coryton despite significant interest from potential buyers and investors, Richard Howitt MEP added:
“Coryton is the jewel in the Petroplus crown with the biggest capacity and the best facilities for production of high grade fuels, so if there is a case for any of the affected refineries in Europe remaining open, it is the case for Coryton.”