India's Essar Energy picks up UK refinery for $1.3-bn

London: India's Essar Energy has agreed to buy Royal Dutch Shell's Stanlow refinery in northwest England for $1.3bn.

The Stanlow refineryEssar will pay Shell $350mn for the refinery, near Ellesmere Port, and $780mn for the crude oil and other stock at the site.

The deal is only the latest push by an Asian petrochemical major into European refining, even as Shell and other western oil majors withdraw from the "downstream" part of the business citing low margins and leave the field clear for competitors from China and Asia.

Essar, which has refineries in India, has been anxious to gain entry into the European market in a bid to develop a global oil trading platform.

"We will be investing in operational improvements to enhance production," Essar said in a statement.

"Stanlow has been running at only about 225,000 barrels a day, which is 75 per cent of its capacity of 296,000 bpd."