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Parliamentary enquiry call over Coryton fiasco
8:00am Monday 2nd July 2012 in News
THE closure of Coryton could cost the national economy more than £1billion MP Stephen Metcalfe has told the House of Commons.
During a debate, the Conservative MP for East Thurrock asked the Government to carry out a parliamentary enquiry into the sale of the refinery, which is to become a terminal, after administrators struck a deal with Shell earlier this week.
He expressed concern at the way administrators went about negotiating a deal, given how important the refinery is to the economy, both locally and nationally.
An economic impact assessment, carried out on behalf of Thurrock Council has estimated that the refinery’s closure, which will effect thousands of people and cost hundreds of jobs in South Essex, will see the national economy shrink 0.07 per cent.
Mr Metcalfe told fellow MPs that since the announcement on Tuesday, he has been contacted by various parties who are unimpressed at how the deal with Shell was reached.
He said: “I have received contact from numerous parties expressing deep concern about the way in which the administration has been conducted. They talk of great secrecy surrounding the sale, they say that alternative outcomes could have been explored but were not, and that barriers were put up.”
He told the House, too, that he believed a bid by Igor Yusufov, the former Russian Energy Minister, fronted by Fund Energy, who would have kept the refinery, was the highest.
“My current understanding is that the Russian-led team bid the highest amount, and that the bid was proceeding well until something happened. I have no idea what that something was.
“Whatever happened, however, I am told that that information was not communicated properly by the administrators to the buyers.”
In response, Charles Hendry, the Energy Minister said he would support a parliamentary inquiry, but that results would come too late to save the refinery.
He added that administrators had approached the Government on May 15 to support a bid financially.
He repeated previous statements, claiming that state-aid for the refinery was not possible due to over-capacity in the UK refinery industry but assured MPs that Fund Enery were kept in the loop.
He said: “I have been reassured today by the administrators and by representatives of Fund Energy that they have met on a continual basis throughout this process. They said that they continued to do so right up until the final decision was made.
“Administrators made a formal request on 15 May for the provision of Government assistance for one option of a number that they were considering. Such negotiations are inevitably controversial, but only one option on the table at the time required such assistance.”