Llandarcy Oil Refinery
Llandarcy Oil Refinery, geograph-3395741-by-Ben-Brooksbank.jpg
Refinery in 1973
Llandarcy Oil Refinery is located in Neath Port Talbot
Llandarcy Oil Refinery
Llandarcy Oil Refinery in Neath Port Talbot
Coordinates51°38′46″N 3°51′47″W / 51.646°N 3.863°W / 51.646; -3.863Coordinates: 51°38′46″N 3°51′47″W / 51.646°N 3.863°W / 51.646; -3.863
Refinery details
Commissioned1919 (1919)
Capacity200,000 bbl/d (32,000 m3/d)
No. of employees2600

The Llandarcy Oil Refinery, also known as the National Oil Refinery, BP Llandarcy and Skewen refinery, was the United Kingdom's first oil refinery, initially opened by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (renamed the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company from 1935 and the British Petroleum Company from 1954) on 29 June 1922, although operations had begun on 1 July 1921.[1] Before this, the only oil refined in the UK came from Scottish shale.


The refinery cost £3 million and eventually covered an area of about 400 hectares.[2]

Construction began in February 1919, and included construction of a new railway line. There were east and west facing connections on the Swansea District Line to the west of Jersey Marine Junction North. By the 1990s there were eight sidings and an unloading dock.[3] The sidings were abolished by 2010.[4]

The refinery was formally opened by Stanley Baldwin, the President of the Board of Trade. It was named after William Knox D'Arcy, the founder of Anglo-Persian.

Llandarcy was built as a model village to house refinery workers.[5] In the 1950s about 2,600 people worked at the refinery.[6]

When opened, it was producing around 150,000 gallons of petrol a day. By 1960, it was refining 8 million tons of crude oil a year and was the third biggest oil refinery in the UK after Fawley Refinery and Lindsey Oil Refinery.

In 1961, a new oil terminal was built by BP at Angle Bay in Pembrokeshire.

Llandarcy closed in 1998. The site was demolished in October 2009.[7]


As initially constructed the refinery produced petrol, kerosene and fuel oils. By 1924 it produced a complete range of petroleum products including a wide range of lubricants, oil for special purposes, and paraffin wax.[8] In 1926 experimental thermal cracking units were installed.[9]

The refining capacity of the refinery over its operational life is summarized in the table.[10][11]

Llandarcy refinery capacity 
Year Capacity, tonnes per year
1938 360,000
1947 1,100,000
1950 2,850,000
1955 3,000,000
1960 3,000,000
1963 5,500,000
1965 7,800,000
1969 8,000,000
1972 8,300,000
1974 8,300,000
1975 8,300,000
1979 5,200,000
1985 2,750,000

In 1970 BP built a new £16m lubricating oil complex.[12] This raised the production of lubricating oil to 100,000 tonnes a year. It comprised a 30,000 barrel per day vacuum distillation unit, a 9,000 barrel per day propane de-asphalting unit, a 10,000 bpd extraction unit, a 6,240 bpd dewaxing unit, and a 6,000 bpd ferro-finer.

Half the capacity was decommissioned in late 1985, the remainder was closed in January 1986, together with the Angle Bay terminal and pipeline. The refinery was restructured as a specialist refinery until it was closed in 1999.[5]

The refinery was the focus of a significant petrochemical industry in the area: the Baglan Bay complex.[5]

Import pipeline

Crude oil was originally imported through the purpose-built Queen’s Dock at Swansea, capable of handling tankers of up to 28,000 D.W.T.[6] To accommodate larger tankers then being developed, a new jetty below Fort Popton and a new terminal was constructed at Angle Bay in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire in 1962. The terminal could handle tankers of up to 100,000 D.W.T. (Dead Weight Tons).[13] Crude oil was pumped from the jetties to five storage tanks built within the Fort and then to the tank farm at Kilpaison (51°40'29"N 5°02'47"W) on the south east edge of Angle Bay and then to Llandarcy through a new pipeline, from November 1960.[14][15] The specification of the Angle Bay to Llandarcy refinery pipeline was as follows.

Crude oil supply pipeline Angle Bay to Llandarcy refinery
Parameter Value
Length 62 miles (96 km)
Diameter 46 cm
Year commissioned 1961
Capacity 5 million tonnes/year, 8 million tonnes/year[16]
Decommissioned 1985


The site of the refinery, which covered 650 acres, was off the Llandarcy Interchange (Junction 43) of the present-day M4, near the B4290 and Skewen. The area is known as Coedffranc. To the south, off the A483, is Crymlyn Burrows.

See also

Railway to the site in 1973
Railway to the site in 1973


  1. ^ BP Oil, British Petrolum Co Ltd, c. 1976
  2. ^ "Anglo-persian Oil Refinery;llandarcy Oil Refinery;skewen Oil Refinery;bp Oil Refinery, Llandarcy (91695)". Coflein. RCAHMW. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  3. ^ Jacobs, Gerald (2000). Railway Track Diagrams - Great Western. Exeter: Quail Map Company. p. 24. ISBN 1898319391.
  4. ^ Bridge, Mike (2010). Railway Track Diagrams - Western. Bradford on Avon: TrackMaps. p. 24. ISBN 9780954986667.
  5. ^ a b c "Llandarcy oil refinery records". archives hub. Retrieved 24 March 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ a b "Llandarcy: Down to the Last Drop". BBC. Retrieved 24 March 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Demolition
  8. ^ "The Llandarcy refinery of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company". Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry. 42 (20): 482–6. 18 May 1923. doi:10.1002/jctb.5000422002.
  9. ^ More, Charles (2009). Black Gold: Britain and Oil in the Twentieth Century. London: Continuum. p. 61. ISBN 9781847250438.
  10. ^ Energy Institute, UK refining distillation capacity at year end. EI Datasheet 07, 2020.
  11. ^ Vielvoye, Roger (19 November 1973). "Massive build-up of oil refinery capacity". The Times. p. 21.((cite news)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "BP to build £16m Welsh oil complex". The Times. 28 April 1970. p. 22.((cite news)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Luckas, M. R. (April 1965). "Recent Developments in the United Kingdom Oil Industry". Geography. 50 (2): 152–60.
  14. ^ Times Wednesday 3 May 1961, page 20
  15. ^ BP (1962). "Angle Bay". BP. Retrieved 24 March 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ Manners, Gerald (1968). The Geography of Energy. Hutchinson. p. 123. ISBN 9780090703241.