Fresh from receiving a low-ball takeover approach from its biggest shareholder, Essar Energy today reported a 68 per cent dive in quarterly production at its Stanlow refinery in Cheshire and announced a $100 million (£60 million) cost-cutting drive.
Essar Energy said it processed only 5.8 million barrels of oil at Stanlow in the final three months of 2013, down from 18 million a year earlier, as planned maintenance and problems with its furnace interrupted work.
In an interim statement that made no mention of the proposed bid, Essar said margins in European refining remained slim, as a result of increasing competition from super-refineries in Asia and the Middle East.
“Stanlow is embarking on an estimated $100 million cost-improvement programme to ensure that the business is able to weather this period of exceptionally poor refining margins,” a spokesman said.
The trading statement comes a day after City investors expressed anger at the billionaire Ruia family’s offer of £900 million, or 70p a share, for the 22 per cent of the company they do not already own.
Essar Energy listed in 2010 at 420p, but shares have slumped since.
The bid, which has triggered calls for more protection for minority shareholders, yesterday added 2.15p to Essar’s share price, to 68.15p, but languished below the offer price.
The shares lost 0.80p, or 1.2%, today, falling to 67.35p.