* Negotiations continue over plant’s future
* PWC says exploring crude supply deal for plant
By Emma Farge
GENEVA, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Petroplus’s UK administrator said on Sunday that it had bought a cargo of crude oil for processing at its Coryton plant as it seeks to conclude negotiations with interested parties to save the plant.
Switzerland’s Petroplus, the owner of the 175,000 barrel per day plant near London, has filed for insolvency, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has maintained operations at Coryton since Jan. 24.
“An oil tanker is now heading towards Coryton and will replenish crude stocks refined over the last 11 days. This purchase means we are able to continue refining operations whilst we seek to conclude discussions and negotiations with parties looking to continue refining at Coryton in the immediate term,” said Steven Pearson, joint administrator and PwC partner in a statement.
PWC said one of the options for the plant was to set up a “tolling arrangement” for the plant whereby a third party supplies regular deliveries to the refinery.
The company’s UK refinery at Coryton has attracted more than 40 interested parties, UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry said, though some analysts have cast doubt on how many of these are serious buyers, given the chronic problems affecting the European refining sector.
PwC did not specify the third party supplying crude oil to Petroplus, although BP sold a cargo of North Sea Ekofisk crude to the Coryton plant in mid-January, trade sources said.
Petroplus, Europe’s largest independent refiner, was forced to shut three of its five refineries in France, Belgium and Antwerp last month because of a lack of crude oil.