Axe likely for 850 jobs at refinery as rescue plan fails

Up to 850 jobs at the bankrupt Coryton oil refinery in Essex are likely to be lost after administrator PwC announced it has failed to secure a rescue deal – despite talking to more than 100 potential investors and purchasers of the operation.

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 February as its administrator, PwC, agreed a three-month deal to continue operations on behalf of a consortium which included the US buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

However, nearly a fortnight after that deal lapsed, PwC has been unable to secure a buyer for the operation. It is now set to close, although talks with potential rescuers will continue during the three months it will take to wind the business down.

"There are likely to be a substantial number of redundancies from within the 500-strong workforce over the next few months if operations are wound down," PwC said in a statement.

Coryton also employs about 350 contractors, whose future has also been cast into doubt.