BP to Close Base Oil Plant


BP announced last week that it intends to close its 7,000 barrel-per-day Coryton base oil plant in Essex, U.K., by the end of 2005 to allow its refinery there to concentrate on production of fuels.

The base oil plant produces Group I stocks and employs 200 people. Officials said the decision to cease operations was aided by the fact that Europe has surplus base oil capacity and because the equipment at the Essex plant was becoming outdated.

Much of the equipment used in the lubricants facility is now coming to the end of its working life, and it would take an enormous capital investment to continue to produce these products, Refinery Manager Jeff Pitzer saidon April 21. Concentrating solely on the production of transport fuels, particularly as we have recently completed an investment program to increase Corytons clean fuels capacity, will increase the profitability of the site and so help to secure its long-term future.

In operation since 1953, Coryton is one of three base oil plants in the United Kingdom, the others being ExxonMobils plant in Fawley and a Shell plant in Stanlow. Corytons 7,000 b/d account for nearly 4 percent of total capacity in Europe, excluding the former Soviet Union.

BP said the region will still have surplus capacity after its plant closes, but the company declined to speculate on the likelihood of other plants being shuttered.

All 200 jobs associated with the plant are slated to be eliminated. Management said it expects the majority will be achieved on a voluntary basis, but added that it will offer placement assistance to employees who want it.

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