India’s Essar Energy is to pay £801m to buy Shell’s Stanlow oil refinery in the northwest.
Stanlow has been up for sale since 2009 and Essar has always been one of the front runners in the bidding race.
Shell said it had put the refinery up for sale so it could “concentrate its global manufacturing portfolio on larger and more sophisticated assets”.
Essar and Shell have now signed an agreement valid until April 1 to push ahead with the deal. Should Essar withdraw from the sale in that time, it would have to pay a ‘break fee’ of £30m to Shell.
Last month, more than 150 motorists took part in a protest outside Stanlow over rising fuel prices.