Total is to sell its 70% interest in the Milford Haven refinery in Wales to its partner Murco Petroleum for $250m (£123m). The move means Murco will have sole ownership of the 5.3m ton-per-year facility - and will be the only employer at the refinery.

The sale of the site in Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Claiborne P Deming, Murphy Oil Corporation’s president and chief executive officer, said: "The purchase of the remaining interest in the Milford Haven refinery provides us with a unique opportunity to expand our position in the UK marketplace via a strategic, competitive asset we know very well. For over 26 years the company has been a partner in this facility and we look forward to our extended role in optimising the plant in the future while creating a conduit for added retail growth.

"The 2005 purchase of 68 additional retail sites increased our penetration into the UK retail market significantly. Acquiring the refinery further strengthens our footprint in the area and positions us well for the future."

Meanwhile Total wants to concentrate its UK refining operations at its Lindsey Oil Refinery on the south bank of the Humber estuary.

The oil giant recently started a 300m euro (£203m) capital investment programme at the Lindsey facility, which has a capacity of 10m metric tons. This was designed to meet the growing demand for low-sulphur diesel.

Total, which makes almost 10m tons of petroleum products a year in the UK and has 900 service stations, said the announcement of the sale reflected its strategy of upgrading its industrial base and adjusting to market trends.