Up to 900 jobs at the bankrupt Coryton oil refinery in Essex are hanging in the balance, with the deadline for a rescue deal due at midnight tonight.
The Thames estuary refinery – which supplies a fifth of the petrol sold in London and the South-east – ran into trouble in January when its Swiss parent company, Petroplus, filed for insolvency.
The operation was thrown a lifeline in the middle of February as its administrator, PwC, agreed a three-month deal with a consortium which included the US buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. Under that agreement, the consortium buys crude oil and passes it to the Coryton plant. The plant refines it for a fee and the consortium sells it on and pockets the profit. But this arrangement expires at midnight tonight.
PwC is scrambling to put together a longer-term deal which, ideally, would see the refinery sold as a going concern, or its debt restructured. Otherwise, the site could be used for something else or closed altogether.