Essar Oil has posted record profits at its Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere Port.

The Indian-owned energy company, which owns and operates the refinery, revealed its best financial results for the year ending March 31.

During the year Essar, said to be worth £606m, says the refinery processed almost nine million metric tonnes of crude, up 5% on the previous year.

Gross revenues for the 12 months were £3.4bn, a 34% drop on the £5.2bn reported in the previous financial year mainly due to the lower price of crude oil which fell 44%.

Record £247m earnings for the year

Earnings before interest, tax and costs were a record £247m for the year against the £122m reported for 2015 while profit after tax in the period grew to £168m, against £48m in 2015.

The refinery continued to benefit from its improved operations which have increased the yield of high margin products such as gasoline while reducing production of lower margin products such as fuel oil.

On the finance side, long-term working capital facilities were agreed including an arrangement with Lloyds Bank.

Essar bought the Stanlow plant from oil giant Shell for $350m in 2011 with the refinery now employing just under 1,000 staff.

Jon Mason, chief operating officer from Essar, with Chester Half Marathon organisers Chris Hulse and Andy White
Jon Mason, chief operating officer from Essar, with Chester Half Marathon organisers Chris Hulse and Andy White

In the battle of the forecourts, Essar has opened up with seven petrol stations and has confirmed plans to have around 400 sites in the UK over the next three years.

It has also committed to an investment of around £94m for major improvements to key units at Stanlow which will deliver further savings and improved yields across its products.

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The company also sponsored the Chester half-marathon for the first time this year.

Essar Oil UK executive chairman Naresh Nayyar said: “This was a good year for the business with the strong financial and operational performance reflecting the significant improvements made by Essar in optimising Stanlow since acquiring the refinery.”

He says that looking forward, ongoing initiatives to improve profits and ‘ambitious plans’ for forecourts ‘will deliver a truly sustainable and successful future for us’.

The company says it has delivered 'substantial improvements’ at Stanlow and since it acquired the site it has given the refinery a sustainable long term future with its ‘entrepreneurial approach’, significant capital investment approaching £470m and new finance facilities among other measures.

It has continued to work with other organisations to support local communities with educational, environmental, wellbeing and charitable initiatives.

A company source described the results as ‘very strong’ and said Essar had make ‘huge progress’ at Stanlow, with ambitious future plans for retail and the refinery.

Stanlow provides 16% of UK transport fuels with output from the refinery including 3bn litres of petrol a year, 4.4bn litres of diesel and 2bn litres of jet fuel.