THE fire service says residents do not need to be concerned despite a "significant amount" of black smoke billowing out of the Stanlow oil refinery in Ellesmere Port this afternoon (May 20).

Ellesmere Port fire station has confirmed that the smoke coming from the Essar Oil site is "under control".

Essar Oil has apologised for any concern caused by the smoke, adding that it was the result of an "unplanned process issue".

Ellesmere Port fire station posted on Twitter: "We are aware of a significant amount of smoke above the Stanlow oil refinery in Ellesmere Port.

"The smoke is under control and there is no need for anyone in the area to be concerned."

Chester and District Standard:

In a statement, Essar Oil said: "An unplanned process issue on one of our plants has led to visible flaring at Stanlow.

"Flares (which allow the controlled burning of gases) are important safety devices used throughout the refining industry to ensure gases from process plants can be safely handled when required.

"Our technical teams are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. We apologise for any concern this has caused."

Essar Oil confirmed shortly before 2.30pm that 'the issue has been resolved and flaring has returned to normal levels'.