By John Donovan
On 30 October 2009, we published a leaked email from Frank Willsdon, the General Manager of the Stanlow refinery (above), confirming that Shell is “in negotiations with Essar for the potential sale of Stanlow, Heide and Harburg refineries.” Willson also stated: “For the time being Shell will not be holding discussions with any third party other than Essar…”
Essar Oil operates a refinery in the west coast of India and over 1,000 oil retail stations across India.
There was no mention in the leaked email that the Stanlow refinery might be converted by Essar into a terminal for supplying already refined products from India.
This possibility only became apparent from an Analysts Presentation dated 5 November 2009 (marked “strictly confidential”. To the consternation of Stanlow refinery employees, a graphic displayed on page 35, under the headline “International Distribution Strategy…” indicates that the Essar facility in the UK will be a terminal, not a refinery.
As a consequence, there are major fears among the work force that the Stanlow refinery would be used as a tank farm and refining would stop, with large job losses.