Igor Yusufov, a former Russian energy minister, recently made a solo bid for Petroplus'' bankrupt Coryton oil refinery in Essex, UK. Mr. Yusufov has been involved in several controversies over past deals with troubled assets, although this may be overlooked to keep the plantand the 900 jobs it supportsin operation.
Workers at the facility, which is nearing closure due to a lack of oil supplies, have been protesting the planned shutdown and resulting layoffs.
Coryton is one of only seven operating refineries in the UK. It has a capacity of 175,000 bpd of crude oil and 65,000 bpd of other feedstocks.
Mr. Yusufov served as Russia''s energy minister during Vladimir Putin''s first term as president. He has been under scrutiny about a past deal regarding the purchase of a Norwegian shipyard group, which Mr. Yusufov helped finance.
The purchase fell through, although some assets were transferred offshore beforehand, in what the official receiver deemed to be illicit transactions. Also, the shipyard group''s former owner died last year in an unsolved shooting. Mr. Yusufov has denied having any role in these events.
The ex-energy minister''s investment firm, Fund Energy, is the only bidder looking to operate Coryton as a refinery. Other biddersincluding Royal Dutch Shell, Greenergy and Vopakseek to convert the plant into a storage terminal.
"I don''t know about the integrity or detail of the bid, but given the corner that we are in, it is important that [Mr. Yusufov''s] bid is given every chance to succeed," commented Richard Howitt, a member of the regional European Parliament, in an interview with Reuters. "It is the responsibility of the government and the administrator that this refinery can be made to work."