CHELSEA FC owner Roman Abramovich is involved in the plans to bring a state-of-the-art waste-to-jet fuel centre to Thurrock, the Gazette has learned.

The Russian billionaire bought shares in gas-to-liquid firm Velocys in January.

Velocys is providing the technology at the plant being built on the former Coryton oil refinery site. The site is being transformed into the Thames Enterprise Park, which is hoped will play host to cutting-edge technology firms.

Abramovich, who began his career selling rubber ducks from a Moscow flat, now has a £8.2billion fortune mainly trading in oil and oil products.

He increased his share in the gas-to-liquid firm, formerly known as Oxford Catalysts Group, to 7.71 per cent last month, causing shares in the company to rise.

Abramovich originally bought shares in Velocys through one of his investment companies Ervington Investments.

An insider revealed that Abramovich was a key player in bringing the plans together: “Yes, Mr Abramovich is a shareholder in one of the companies involved with the waste-to-jet fuel project.”

Velocys will be providing the technology to turn gases, which are removed from landfill, into liquids.

Roy Lipski, CEO of Velocys, said of the project: “Velocys is pleased to be part of this ground-breaking project and to contribute to British Airway's strategy for sustainable aviation, as well as Solena's plans for similar projects world-wide."

The Gazette revealed in April that the £321m centre, which is being set up by various firms including British Airways, Solena and Velocys, will be the first on the Manorway enterprise park off Manorway, Stanford-le-Hope.

It will take on 150 permanent employees when it opens in 2017, with about 900 more involved in its construction beforehand.

The leading national provider of road fuel, Greenergy, took over Coryton oil refinery with Vopak and Shell in 2012 and is then main player behind the enterprise park plan.

Thurrock Gazette:

An artist's impression of how the waste-to-jet fuel centre could look


South Essex College teams up with uni to help our youngsters get Enterprise Park skills

A UNIVERSITY has been brought in to help develop courses to train people for jobs at the Thames Enterprise Park.

South Essex College signed the deal with the University of Northampton on July 2 to get college and university level courses in Grays ready for September, drawing on the resources of the university’s Centre for Sustainable Waste Management.

Thurrock Council and the Thames Enterprise Park were heavily involved in brokering the deal to enable the maximum amount of local people to take advantage of the 2,000 jobs at the complex by the time it is fully developed.

As part of the planning process, the council is commissioning an analysis of the skilled workforce needed by employees on the site, the first of which will be up and running by 2017.

Council regeneration spokesman Andy Smith said: “Sited within reach of jobs at the enterprise park, South Essex College and its university partner will play a vital role in delivering our promise that local people and their children will benefit from this and other exciting local regeneration projects.”

But Andrew Owens, founder of Greenergy, told last week’s Thurrock council cabinet meeting that local people’s skills at getting a job need boosting, too. He said: “When we interview people the hardest thing is getting through the first ten minutes.

“If the interview’s at 4.10pm, they don’t consider 4.10pm to be a particularly important time.

“They show up ten minutes late and it doesn’t occur to them to show up five minutes early.”

He added he also wanted people to visit the site to get more interested in the industry.