London and the South East area of the UK face the loss of some 1,000 jobs as well as a shortage of petrol and a rise in fuel prices as Coryton Oil Refinery in Essex faces closure as its parent company, Petroplus, files for insolvency.
Coryton Oil Refinery was originally built and owned by an Anglo-American enterprise called Vacuum Oil Company (now known as Mobil). Developed on reclaimed marshland on the north of the Thames Estuary just to the east of the Essex town of Southend on Sea, the oil processing facility was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on May 27, 1954 according to The Times newspaper of that month(accessed via the Times Digital Archive – subscription required).
Wikipedia reports that in 1996, management of the refinery was handed over to BP before being sold to Swiss-based independent petroleum refiner and wholesaler Petroplus in 2007 for the sum of £714.6m. It is the financial difficulties faced by this parent company, according to a press release dated January 24, 2012, that have forced its board of Directors to:
… prepare for a filing for insolvency or composition proceedings (“Nachlassstundung”) in Switzerland and will make the necessary filings as soon as possible. Similar steps are being taken by Petroplus subsidiaries in various jurisdictions… including … Petroplus Refining and Marketing Ltd…
The press release goes on to say that the company is
… fully aware of the impact that this will have on our workforce, their families and the communities where we have operated our businesses.
This will give little comfort to some 1,000 personnel who work at the refinery and face losing their jobs. It will also provide little comfort for the millions of motorists in the UK, particularly in London and the South East, who are likely to see petrol shortages and rising fuel prices as a result.