Stanlow’s oil refinery could be on the brink of collapse as urgent talks are held with tax authorities, it was learned today.
The bosses of the Ellesmere Port oil refinery are in urgent talks with HMRC over a £ 356million VAT bill, according to the Sunday Times.
However, in a statement shared with ECHO, a spokesperson for Essar said it had already repaid £ 547million to HMRC, leaving a balance of £ 223million, as part of the program. Government membership available to all UK businesses.
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Stanlow is Britain’s second largest refinery and supplies one-sixth of the country’s road fuel.
It is owned by the magnate brothers Shashi and Ravi Ruia, through their company Essar Oil UK.
The VAT invoice for the refinery built during the pandemic under the government’s Covid VAT deferral scheme.
The company, which employs 1,700 people, said: “Positive discussions are underway.”
It comes as the country faces a fuel crisis, with BP, Esso and Tesco being forced to close a small number of their gas stations on Friday. partly due to the lack of truck drivers to deliver fuel
Gas stations across the country have seen long lines of people rushing to refuel their cars despite calls from the government to buy fuel “as usual” and not to panic.
An NHS worker told ECHO how she struggled to get fuel at three petrol stations in Wirral on Saturday before being forced to wait half an hour in line, which left her late for work.
When she finally came to the front of the line Laura said only V-Power fuel was available at £ 1.50 per liter.
She said: “I had to put my last £ 30 in the tank. I’m on the job for the next 4 days and only get paid on Wednesday and cried at the gas station.
“I am now late for the patients who rely on me for their meals and medications. “
The government is set to introduce measures to tackle the shortage of heavy truck drivers by temporarily lifting visa restrictions for up to 5,000 foreign drivers.
N ° 10 insisted on Friday evening that any measure introduced would be “very strictly limited in time”.
The move was made in an effort to help address delivery issues at gas stations and food shortages in supermarkets.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes, with visas available from next month, “would ensure preparations stay on track” for the holiday season.
In a press release shared with ECHO, a spokesperson for Essar said: “Following an article published this evening on the Times website, itself an article almost identical to that published a week earlier by Sky News, Essar Oil (UK) Limited (“EOUK” or “the Company”) again provides an update on its current financial position and ongoing discussions with HMRC regarding its VAT liabilities.
EOUK detailed its current financial situation in a statement last week, in which it confirmed the significant progress the company has made in strengthening its financial position and securing new financings.
“As a result of this work over the past few months, EOUK has secured $ 1.1 billion in cash.
“In addition, the Company has now returned to positive EBITDA and is therefore in a much stronger position to meet the continued challenge presented by the pandemic.
“In particular, EOUK has, at this stage, successfully managed the current disruption of supply.
“By taking measures in early August to retain its driver base and hire smaller carriers, EOUK has indeed significantly increased vehicle trips per day, ensuring the security of supply for its customers during this critical period. At the beginning of August, EOUK was operating with c. 52 vehicle trips per day to more than 70 trips per day today.
“The shift plan is expected to further increase that number to well over 80 by the end of October on the current schedule, providing the fuel EOUK customers so badly need. EOUK remains committed to continuing to meet the demands of its customers.
“Regarding future VAT payments, EOUK has entered into a Time to Pay Agreement (‘TTP’) with HMRC for a total of £ 770 million in April 2021. EOUK has already reimbursed HMRC £ 547 million sterling, leaving a balance of £ 223million, as part of the government membership program available to all businesses in the UK.
“All companies under the TTP had until January 2022 to meet their commitments. EOUK had agreed to an accelerated schedule to make this payment.
“However, the recovery from the pandemic has been slower than expected. EOUK is therefore in talks with HMRC on a short extension to make these deferred VAT payments.
“These discussions are positive and EOUK looks forward to an upcoming resolution.
“EOUK has made positive changes to its internal governance in recent months, after adjusting its board, forming an advisory board, appointing a new independent director and embracing the Wates principles.
“She continues to work with leading advisors, including E&Y. Since Essar’s acquisition of the refinery, Essar has invested more than $ 1 billion in the refinery and is committed to developing initiatives that support its vision for a low-carbon future.
“EOUK remains confident in its future, especially as the air transport market continues to open and demand recovers.”