Administrators to a refinery which went bust have acquired a cargo of oil which will allow refining work to continue, it was announced today.
PwC said the move allowed a "breathing space" while efforts continue to secure the future of the Coryton refinery in Essex.
But the administrators warned that the cost of operating the site were "significant" and the new purchase would only extend operations by a number of days.
The move followed a warning by union sources that the site was only operating at 30% capacity amid continued concerns about job losses.
The site, which supplies 20% of fuel in London and the South East, halted sales after its Swiss owner, Petroplus, placed the refinery in administration, prompting fears of up to 1,000 job losses.
PwC said: "The joint administrators announced they have acquired a cargo of oil to be processed at the Coryton refinery. This purchase allows refining to continue whilst efforts to find a more stable solution for PRML are advanced."
Steven Pearson, joint administrator and partner at PwC, said: "It has required extensive discussions and intense negotiations to acquire this cargo of oil. It provides vital breathing space.
"Discussions have been ongoing with a number of parties who have expressed an interest in sustaining refining at the site and this purchase provides more time to allow those discussions to be assessed by all parties. We continue to work through the day and night to find a solution which buys more time and which ultimately could result in a sale.
"The support of the management, employees and unions at Coryton has been outstanding and a critical factor in getting to this stage. We are grateful for their ongoing support and resolve and we all remain focused on finding a solution together.
"The costs of operating the site are very significant and this means we are living from hand to mouth. We cannot guarantee anything at this stage, but at least we have extended the period which the site can operate for by a number of days. This extra time is critical in maximising our options."
Energy minister Charles Hendry said: "Sealing the deal for a delivery of crude to Coryton is an important short-term step as the administrator works to find a buyer for the refinery.
"Today's delivery resulted from the hard work of the parties involved, including the administrator and the workforce. Now the focus must turn fully towards working with those showing an interest in buying the refinery, and reaching a deal to secure its long-term future."