Coryton Refinery

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Coryton Refinery
Coryton 191007.jpg
Coryton Refinery is located in Essex
Coryton Refinery
Location of Coryton Refinery in Essex
Country England, United Kingdom
City Thurrock, Essex
Coordinates 51°30′47″N 0°31′16″E / 51.513°N 0.521°E / 51.513; 0.521Coordinates: 51°30′47″N 0°31′16″E / 51.513°N 0.521°E / 51.513; 0.521
Refinery details
Owner(s) Petroplus
Commissioned 1953 (1953)
Decommissioned 2012 (2012)

Coryton Refinery was an oil refinery in Essex, England, on the estuary of the River Thames some 28 miles (45 km) from the centre of London, between Shell Haven Creek and Hole Haven Creek, which separates Canvey Island from the mainland.

It was a part of the Port of London and was the last of the three major refineries on the Thames Estuary to remain in operation. Output was delivered by road, sea and rail, and it was linked to Stanlow Refinery in North West England by the UK Oil Pipeline (UKOP). There is a 753 MW gas-fired power station, opened in 2002 and run by Coryton Energy Co Ltd, part of Intergen.

In January 2012 Petroplus filed for bankruptcy. Coryton Refinery ceased production in June 2012. The site will be turned into an industrial hub to be called Thames Enterprise Park.


Explosives factory[edit]

In 1895 the ammunition firm Kynochs built an explosives factory at the site. This opened in 1897, with an estate for employees called Kynochtown. Products included cordite, guncotton, gunpowder, and cartridges.[1] Kynochs also built the Corringham Light Railway (CLR), with a passenger branch from the works to Corringham and a goods branch to the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway at Thames Haven. The Kynoch works closed in 1919.

Oil storage depot[edit]

The site and CLR were taken over by coal merchants Cory Brothers Ltd of Cardiff to build an oil storage depot, with Kynochtown renamed Coryton. Sources differ as to whether Corys, who sold a well-known brand of petrol, Corys' Motor Spirit, also built a refinery at the site.


In 1950 Coryton and the CLR were sold to the American Vacuum Oil Company, later Mobil. The CLR to Corringham was closed, but the branch from Thames Haven was upgraded to main-line standards. A new refinery came on stream in 1953. Coryton village was demolished and absorbed into the refinery site in the 1970s.


Coryton was operated by BP from 1996, when Mobil's fuels operations in Europe were placed into a joint venture with BP. Following the merger in 1999 of Mobil with Exxon, the remaining interest in the refinery was sold to BP in 2000.


In 2007 the plant was sold by BP to Petroplus for £714.6m (around $1.4 billion).

On 24 January 2012 it was announced that Petroplus had filed for bankruptcy, putting the refinery's future into doubt.[2] To alleviate a possible surge in fuel prices, oil supplies were ordered from other refineries in the UK, such as the Stanlow Refinery via the UK oil pipeline network.[3] Shipments from Coryton resumed on 26 January following agreements signed by the administrators.[4]


PwC (Administration)

On 28 May 2012 it was announced that the refinery would close due to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the administrators, having failed to find a buyer.[5] Igor Yusufov's Energy Investment Fund was the only potential bidder ready to keep the refinery operating.[6] On 28th Feb 2013 the gas supply to the site was shut off. Around twelve hours later the flare went out, bringing to an end over 60 years of operations at the refinery. [7]

Deepwater fuel import terminal[edit]

The refinery will be turned into a diesel import terminal by Vopak, Shell and Greenergy.[8] It will initially have a capacity of 500,000 cubic metres (18,000,000 cu ft).[9]

Process units[edit]

Coryton flare stack in 2007

Their main operating units were:

  • Distillation unit
  • Vacuum distillation
  • Fluid catalytic cracker
  • Catalytic reformer
  • Hydro desulphurisation units
  • Gas recovery unit
  • Isomerisation unit
  • Alkylation unit


Crude oil was received from tankers of up to 250,000 tonnes deadweight (DWT). In 2005 BP acquired a fleet of three new 32 m tugs for towing, mooring, fire-fighting and pollution control at the plant. They ware named 'Corringham', 'Stanford' and 'Castle Point' after nearby locations.

Refining capacity was 11 million tonnes per year or 220,000 bbl/day.

Product output:

  • petrol 3.6 million tonnes
  • diesel 2.7 million tonnes
  • kerosene/jet fuel 1.1 million tonnes
  • LPG 0.2 million tonnes
  • Fuel oil 1.7 million tonnes
  • Bitumen 0.3 million tonnes


A major fire occurred on 31 October 2007.[10] Despite the scale of the blast, which was reported to cause buildings to shake 14 miles (23 km) away,[11] there were no physical injuries and only partial disruption to the refinery.


  1. ^ Henry W. Macrosty. (1907). The Trust Movement in British Industry. The Chemical Industries. (p. 166). Archived 29 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Batoche Books.
  2. ^ BBC: Coryton refinery job fears after Petroplus go bankrupt
  3. ^ Gosden, Emily (24 January 2012). "Petroplus insolvency risks 900 UK jobs amid petrol shortage fears". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  4. ^ "Coryton refinery shipments start as deal signed". BBC News Essex. 26 January 2012. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  5. ^ "Coryton oil refinery set to close within three months". BBC News. 28 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "Insight - Russian bid for UK refinery brings controversy". Reuters. 15 June 2012. 
  7. ^ "Coryton Refinery Flare decommissioning". 30 Mar 2013. 
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ Aislinn Simpson. (1 November 2007). Fire crews control oil refinery blaze. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 April 2008.
  11. ^ BBC News. (1 November 2007). England | Essex | Inquiry into refinery fire begins. Retrieved 11 April 2008.

External links[edit]