A deal to purchase Murco’s Milford Haven Oil Refinery has been agreed in principal over the weekend between refinery owner Murphy Oil and oil entrepreneur Gary Klesch, according to media reports.

In a BBC interview, Wales office minister Stephen Crabb said: “We’ve had a real breakthrough in the negotiations between the owner of Murphy oil refinery and a prospective buyer. There was an agreement in principal which was crucial to get this weekend as Murphy was clear that without that commitment they were going to announce tomorrow morning (Monday) that they were beginning the process for shutting down the refinery altogether, so it was vital we secured an agreement in principal this weekend.”

He said the buyer runs a refinery in Germany: “He’s an industrialist, and wants to keep the refinery as an ongoing refinery operation. He’s not interested in turning it into an import terminal which would involve a major loss of jobs. He wants to keep oil refining at the Milford Haven refinery, which is so important for the hundreds of jobs that depend on it.”

A spokesman for Murphy told Reuters: “Murphy feel that solid progress has been made in negotiations, but caution that substantial work remains to done. If the past has taught us anything, it is that these sales are especially challenging and we are not assured of success.”

Gary Klesch founded The Klesch Group in 1990. It is described as a global industrial company that acquires commodity producing companies, applies optimisation techniques to efficiently run their operations and manages risk through commodity trading strategies.