Fuel shortage threat to South East

Petrol shortages threaten south-east England following the announcement that oil refining firm Petroplus is to file for bankruptcy and another supplier's truckers have started a seven-day strike.

Swiss-based Petroplus announced its insolvency and the Coryton refinery, in Essex, told customers that supplies had been stopped with immediate effect with no sign of when they might resume.

Energy analysts said there could be a long shutdown hitting supplies for the South East as Coryton supplies around 20% of fuel used in the region.

There are also concerns for the more than 1,000 workers at the site, where as many as 175,000 barrels of crude oil are processed. The bankruptcy announcement came after Petroplus failed to persuade creditors to extend loan repayment deadlines.

East of England Labour MEP Richard Howitt warned that the collapse could devastate the community and hit petrol stations in the region, adding that this could affect the Olympics, which is expected to see fuel consumption leap when London hosts it in the summer.

Copyright Press Association 2012