Ellesmere Port’s oil refinery has signed up to fuel the world’s largest international airline - Emirates.
Essar Oil UK, which owns and operates the Stanlow refinery, has agreed a deal to supply aviation fuel direct to Emirates which is based in Dubai.
The move is the first agreement reached by the company for the direct supply of aviation fuel to a commercial carrier.
The ‘major deal’ will see Essar’s jet fuel fuelling Emirates’ aircraft at Manchester Airport.
Emirates flies three times daily from Manchester to Dubai operating the carrier’s Boeing 777-300 and its flagship Airbus A380 aircraft, the world’s largest passenger jet.
Stanlow manufactures more than two billion litres of jet fuel each year and says it plays a ‘key role’ in the north west’s aviation industry.
The refinery currently supplies on a wholesale basis a ‘significant proportion’ of all fuel used at Manchester Airport as well as at Liverpool John Lennon and other regional airports.
Essar emphasises the agreement with Emirates is the first under which it will directly supply aviation fuel to an airline.
Discussions with other potential carriers are described as ‘already under way’.
Colin Dixon, head of marketing at Essar Oil UK, said: “This is a major milestone in our strategy of further downstream integration combining our refinery supply strength with our marketing capabilities in the aviation sector.
“We look forward to becoming a key player in the aviation market.”
The deal with Emirates is part of the company’s approach which has recently seen a ‘highly successful’ entry into the UK transport fuel retail market.
The business has confirmed ambitious plans to grow its network of filling stations in the UK to 400 over the next three years.
Looking forward, Essar has revealed it has also committed to a significant capital investment of approximately £105m in a project for major improvements to key units at the Stanlow Refinery.
The company believes these will deliver a further reduction in crude oil costs at the refinery and improved yields across its range of end products.
Overall Essar says the refinery produces 16% of UK road transport fuels, including three billion litres of petrol and 4.4 billion litres of diesel a year in addition to the two billion litres of jet fuel.
It processed almost nine million metric tonnes of crude oil during 2015/16, up five per cent and announced its ‘best ever’ financial results with profits after tax of £188m.
Product availability for customers using Stanlow was 100%.