Shell Haven

Shell Haven

Infobox UK place
official_name= Shell Haven
unitary_england= Thurrock
lieutenancy_england= Essex
region= East of England
country= England
latitude= 51.5052
longitude= 0.4902
constituency_westminster= Basildon
postcode_area= SS
postcode_district= SS17
dial_code= 01375
os_grid_reference= TQ728815

Shell Haven is the historic name for the port on the north bank of the Thames Estuary at the eastern end of Thurrock, Essex, England. DP World, which now owns the port, received planning consent in May 2007 for a new major deep water container port at the site, which is known as London Gateway.

The site previously known as Shell Haven or Shellhaven was originally an inlet on the north bank of the Thames, about a mile to the west of Canvey Island. This was the mouth of Shell Haven Creek, which runs east and south of the village of Fobbing, and originally separated Corringham Marsh from Fobbing Marsh. To the east was Shell Haven House. Sources differ on when Shell Haven first became associated with the oil industry; the first edition Ordnance Survey map of the early 1800s shows Oil Mill Farm a mile or so up Shell Haven Creek. Shell Haven was for over 80 years the site of a large Shell oil refinery, but there seems to be no evidence for the company taking its name from the site.

Thames Haven

In the 1850s a branch line was constructed from the London Tilbury and Southend Railway (LT&SR) to a new port immediately to the west of Shell Haven, to be known as Thames Haven (sometimes written Thameshaven). The name of Shell Haven would probably have been eclipsed, but for the failure of Thames Haven to prosper, and the later arrival of the Shell oil company.


In 1895 the ammunition firm Kynochs purchased Borley Farm, to the east of Shell Haven Creek, in order to build an explosives factory. This opened in 1897, with a small estate called Kynochtown. Kynochs also built the Corringham Light Railway (CLR), with a passenger branch from the works to Corringham and a goods branch to the LT&SR at Thames Haven. The Kynoch works closed in 1919. The site and CLR were taken over by coal merchants Cory Brothers Ltd of Cardiff to build an oil storage depot, with Kynochtown being renamed Coryton. The oil depot eventually became Coryton Refinery (run from 1950 until recently by Mobil and its antecedents), which remains in production, between Shell Haven Creek and Hole Haven to the east.

hell Refinery

Shell Oil first arrived in the form of the Asiatic Petroleum Company Ltd, a sales company formed by Royal Dutch Petroleum and the British company Shell Transport and Trading Company, prior to their merger as Royal Dutch Shell. A licence was obtained in 1912 to store petroleum at Shell Haven. Refinery operations began on a 40 hectare (100 acre) site in 1916 with a distillation plant which produced fuel oil for the Admiralty. In 1919 this unit was converted to manufacture road surfacing bitumen. In 1925, a new plant was erected for the manufacture of lubricating oils; the first high viscosity oils were produced in 1937.

During World War 2 the refineries and oil storage tanks at Thames Haven, Shell Haven and Coryton became a sitting target for air raids, notably in September 1940 during the Battle of Britain.

In 1946 a plant producing high grade paraffin wax for candles, paper, etc. was commissioned. In 1947 expansion began on a 400 hectare (1,000 acre) site west of the original refinery, with the construction of a distillation unit designed for Middle East crude oil; this came on-stream in 1950. Crude was pumped into 100,000-ton capacity tanks before being distilled to produce butane, methane, petrol, kerosene, gas oil and bitumen.

Subsequently various units were added to produce valuable hydrocarbons from the distillation residue. In 1956 a catalytic reforming 'Platformer' was brought into service and in the same year, a petroleum chemicals unit to manufacture alkylbenzenes, the basis of household detergents. A second crude distillation unit was commissioned in 1959, and a second catalytic reformer in 1967. A kerosene hydrotreater was commissioned in 1972 and in 1977 a third reformer. In 1979 a hydrocracking unit was added to increase the proportion of light distillates. A new bitumen plant started production in 1981.

In 1992, a major capital investment was completed, adding a 'Naphtha Minus' complex which contained an isomerisation unit, benzene recovery and gas turbine power generation. A new Control Centre was added. By then the plant had a capacity of 4.6 million tonnes per annum, and covered 800 hectares (2,000 acres), with a 27km (17 mile) perimeter and its own generating plant, emergency and other services. It had five jetties, handling tankers of up to 300,000 tons capacity. The refinery delivered products by road and ship and UK oil pipeline network.

The Shell refinery closed in 1999; the neighbouring Coryton Refinery remains in operation.

London Gateway

In 2006 the site was purchased by DP World, one of the largest marine terminal operators in the world, as part of the company’s purchase of P&O. In May 2007, DP World received outline planning consent for a new major new deepwater port on the site, known as London Gateway. In addition to the new port, the development will include one of Europe’s largest logistics parks, providing access to London, the South East and the rest of the UK.

In May 2008, the Department for Transport issued a ‘Harbour Empowerment Order’ for London Gateway, which provided official and statutory powers for the new port and established London Gateway as a legally recognised authority. DP World is now set to invest over £1.5bn to develop the project over the next 10 to 15 years.

External links

* [ Vision of Britain - Old OS Maps]
* [ Thurrock council -Thurrock Heritage - Factfiles 49 - Corringham Light railway]
* [ About Shell - The Shell history - the beginnings]
* [ An account of the visit to the Shell Haven Oil Refinery 1990]
* [ Institute of Petroleum Interactive Guide to UK Refineries - Shell Haven (Shell)]
* [ London Gateway Planning Inquiry]
* [ P&O London Gateway decision press release]

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