Ministers urged to ensure UK’s future oil refining capacity

Ministers urged to ensure UK’s future oil refining capacity

04 December 2012

Ministers have been urged to take urgent steps to ensure the future security of the UK’s oil refining capacity by Unite, the country’s largest union.

The call has come in the wake of the closure of the Coryton oil refinery in Essex earlier this year which cost nearly 3,000 jobs across the UK, with an adverse knock-on effect to the economy estimated to be up to £1 billion.

In its document, Refining Our Future, the union outlines the fragmented nature of oil refining in the UK and calls on the government to have “a serious policy aimed at the maintenance of a viable, competitive and efficient refining sector.”

At present there are seven UK oil refineries employing 150,000 workers, directly and indirectly, faced with squeezed profit margins and at the mercy of international market forces, as was the case with Coryton, owned by Swiss company Petroplus.

Unite is angry at the British government’s failure to rescue Coryton, while the French government stepped in with €16 million to save its Petroplus-owned refinery. The union accused the UK government of hiding behind so-called EU competition rules for its inertia.

Unite national officer for the processing sector Linda McCulloch said: “Unite is deeply concerned at what we consider to be the vulnerability of a number of oil refineries in the UK.

“We consider the oil industry to be critical to the UK economy. In an increasingly unstable world where new supplies of crude oil will need to be found quickly in the years ahead, it is absolutely essential the UK maintains its ability to refine its own oil.

“Britain should not become totally dependent on importing finished products.

“We will be urging government, policy makers and the industry to recognise the key points in our strategy and use it to defend the UK’s oil sector capacity and manage significant economic change in the industry."


For further information or a PDF of the report, please contact Unite senior communications officer, Shaun Noble on 07768 693940

Printed copies are available from Denise Sherriffs

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.