A TOP Murco director has stepped down as part of a planned management buyout of the Milford Haven refinery, it has been revealed today (Monday).

Murco managing Director Tom McKinlay has stepped aside to avoid a potential conflict of interest as he aims to secure a deal for the facility which employs hundreds of local staff.

The refinery has been in the news since a £300m deal for the site collapsed last month.

And the next ten days will be crucial for the future of the refinery and employees, according to a local MP.

Three buyers – including the management buyout option – are understood to be interested in the Murphy Oil-owned refinery but time is running out for a deal to be completed.

No more shipments of crude oil have been ordered into the refinery.

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb said the ‘clock was ticking,’ “There are three serious and potential buyers out there, all of whom have been talking to the UK Government and Welsh Government and our hope must be that Murphy strikes a deal with one of these parties.

“I have been growing more concerned that there’s a narrow time frame for a deal to be completed, which is why I have been speaking to Murphy senior management in Arkansas, to seek to better understand their position.

“They tell me that they remain serious about selling the refinery, and selling the plant as a functioning refinery but there are obviously serious commercial issues at play.”

Mr Crabb said he expected the next ten days to be crucial.

The Welsh Government has set up a task force to try to prevent the closure and protect 400 jobs.