Total is halving capacity and cutting jobs at its Lindsey refinery at North Killingholme, Lincolnshire.

UK refineries have been struggling to cope with weak demand for fuel in Europe and rising competition from overseas, and Total’s move follows last year’s shutdown of the Murco refinery at Milford Haven, and the Grangemouth refinery in Scotland being taken to the brink of closure after an industrial dispute.

Total chief executive Patrick Pouyanne told reporters: “We will cut the capacity by half. Jobs will be reduced to 400 positions from 580 positions.”

He said Total had studied several options for Lindsey in recent years, including a sale, and was now embarking on an “adaptation plan” to improve efficiency and competitiveness at the plant. Lindsey currently has capacity of 207,000 barrels per day.

Pouyanne added: “We think we can keep this refinery as part of the Total group. Workers there showed they were willing to fight to make it profitable.”

The company’s plan, which involves a £33m investment, will cut refining capacity by 50%, by shutting down one of the crude distillation units and associated operations.

Total will also reorganise the refinery’s support and operational services, with a further £150m to be invested over the next five years for turnaround maintenance and other improvements, the company said.