The former BP refinery at Coryton will soon be a distant memory following the announcement that the owner of the site, Thames Enterprise Park, has appointed specialist contractor Brown and Mason Ltd to demolish the redundant refinery and boiler house.

The refinery was sold by BP to Petroplus in 2007, but in January 2012 it was announced that Petroplus had filed for bankruptcy, putting the future of the refinery in doubt. The administrators, PricewaterhouseCoopers, could not find a buyer to keep it running, and in April 2013 the refinery’s flare was finally xtinguished following 60 years of operation.

Thames Enterprise Park occupies around 400 acres of riverside industrial land on the Thames Estuary in Thurrock, Essex. A vision prepared by the company for the creation of a centre of excellence in energy and environmental technologies won the support of Thurrock Council’s Cabinet on July 2, 2014. Up to 400 acres of the 580-acre former refinery site is to be used for Thames Enterprise Park, with 140 acres now immediately available and another 70 acres to be freed up by the clearance of the refinery.

Under Brown and Mason’s contract, structures will be demolished down to the level of the concrete base, asbestos will be safely removed from the site, some units will be cleaned or decontaminated before removal and materials will be segregated to maximise potential for waste recycling.

The former refinery’s tanks, jetties and loading racks are being converted into a deep water import and blending terminal at neighbouring Thames Oilport and will not be demolished under this contract. The company says the poor condition of this infrastructure has meant that the conversion project continues to take longer than expected. 

Graham Alexander, head of business development at Thames Enterprise Park, said: “The business of Thames Enterprise Park is progressing well ahead of our investment expectations. The potential of the site has become very obvious since we took ownership. It is a great strategic location for business and, as an established industrial site with river, road and pipeline access, has a unique set of attributes.”

Cllr John Kent, leader of Thurrock Council, said: “While it’s sad to see another of Thurrock’s old landmarks disappear, at the same time it’s exciting as another dynamic industry rises here and utilises our unique geographical advantages.

“The River Thames, the A13 and the M25 mean Thurrock is within reach of everywhere – whether in this country or abroad. That much of the site’s infrastructure is being converted to a use that’s new yet still related to the traditional oil industry is one thing, but that the rest will become part of the Thames Enterprise Park, something I see energising a superb new and innovative industry in Thurrock, is better still.”

A spokesman said Brown and Mason was already on site and that Thurrock’s coastal landscape should start to change early next year. Demolition is expected to take approximately two years. The Dartford-based contractor will be using around 80 existing employees for the demolition, which will be overseen by a specialist team of 17 employed by Thames Enterprise Park.