Charles Hendry, Energy Minister Chaired a meeting with representatives from Thurrock Council, Unite, local MPs and the administrator PWC this afternoon to discuss ongoing concerns about the potential closure of the Coryton oil refinery.
At today’s meeting, representatives discussed the future options for the refinery and the work the administrators are doing to secure a sustainable future for the plant.
The Minister reiterated Government’s commitment to help those workers who are at risk of losing their jobs if the refinery closes. He also set out the broader context of overcapacity in the refining industry and declining demand for petrol in the UK and Europe.
The meeting also focussed on what Government and local partners doing, alongside the administrators, to safeguard as many local jobs as possible.
Charles Hendry said:
“From the outset of this process, we have worked tirelessly with the administrator to find a way to secure a successful outcome for Coryton and to safeguard local jobs.
“It is extremely disappointing that the administrators have not found a buyer for the refinery, despite their strong efforts. .Unfortunately considerable additional investment is needed to keep the refinery operating efficiently, and this has meant that potential bidders have been faced with high upfront investments to make in the order of some hundreds of millions.
“In addition, UK refineries face tough competition from other refineries in Europe and increasingly in Asia, which means that profit margins are low and there is overcapacity in the sector. It is clearly a very tough market and these conditions on their own make the sale of Coryton as a refinery challenging.
“We looked long and hard at whether or not State Aid should be provided for Coryton. But, we came to the conclusion that the existing overcapacity in the refining industry and declining demand for petrol means that it would not be sustainable.
“If Government did step in to help Coryton, this would be a short-term fix, and it could potentially lead to job losses at other refineries who would be at an unfair disadvantage.
“We realise this is a really worrying time for those who work at the refinery in Coryton, for their families and their communities more generally. We will be doing whatever we can to support people through this difficult period.
“If it is not possible to find someone keen to take forward this investment as a business then Government is committed to help Thurrock Council and its taskforce through a range of different government departments, to make sure we mitigate the job losses as best as we can.
“To this end, we are already working closely with local agencies and Jobcentre Plus to ensure the right support is in place to help these skilled workers find new posts.”