Residents across south Essex were shocked after hearing loud bangs.

The Echo can reveal the noises were nothing sinister, but were the result of what is believed to be a controlled demolition at the Coryton Oil Refinery.

Fears were ignited after three loud explosions shook the houses of hundreds of residents

A spokesman from Calor Gas said: “Good afternoon, just had a worried member of the community contact me about the four large bangs, they didn’t come from Calor. We think it is demolition work down the Thames.”

Canvey Island Conservative councillor Ray Howard was also unaware of the planned works. He said: “It was frightening. It shook my house.”

“It’s surprising that we didn’t know about it because normally when there’s something like that they let everyone know and people look forward to going to see it.

“I will definitely be making representation that when this type of thing happens, people should be notified.

“Coryton are our neighbours and it shouldn’t be the case that they are frightening people unnecessarily.”

The Coryton oil refinery closed in June 2012 after its owner, Petroplus Refining and Marketing, went into administration.

More than 700 jobs were lost with the plant’s demise. But a consortium led by oil firm Vopak bought the site and is in the process of turning half of it into an oil import terminal and the other half into the Thames Enterprise Park, which is already set to be the location of a state-of-the-art waste-to-jet fuel centre, backed by British Airways.

George Whatley from Limburgh road, Canvey said: “It was a very, very big, heavy explosion. It rattled our windows.

“It’s the heaviest explosion I’ve felt here for a long time.

“Last time it was a mine in the marshes, but this was much larger. There were three, very big, very close explosion.

“Obviously it scared people in the area, it was quite frightening.

“I spoke with Councillor Ray Howard, he was down on his farm and he felt the impact down there.

“Residents were concerned because there’s two top tiered coma sites on the island, Oikos and Calor Gas. If it was an incident there it would be catastrophic, it would affect the everyone on the island. We would have to be evacuated. “

A spokesman from Greenergy said: "I can confirm that at 3pm today two chimneys of the former Coryton Refinery were demolished as a planned event and in a controlled explosion. 

"The chimneys, which were part of the old refinery boiler house, were demolished as we complete clearance of land to make way for Thames Enterprise Park, a new 400 acre industrial site located on the river Thames next to London Gateway and Thames Oilport."

Thanks to Andy Martin for the video.