Murco – the forecourt operator that was put up for sale by its US parent company Murphy Oil four years ago – is reportedly on the verge of finally being sold.

Murphy Oil put Murco’s more than 400 forecourts, as well as its refinery in Milford Haven, up for sale in July 2010 following a review of its UK downstream operations.

This week, Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb claimed a deal had been reached with conglomerate The Klesch Group - which has interests in chemicals, metals, oils, trading and investments and is run by US oil tycoon Gary Klesch.

“I am delighted with the breakthrough in negotiations over the sale of the Murco oil refinery in Milford Haven,” Crabb told the Western Telegraph.

“The agreement in principle reached between Murphy and the buyer is a hugely positive step forward. The sale will secure hundreds of high quality jobs and will enable the refinery to continue operating fully.

“There remain challenges ahead, and a due diligence process to be completed, but I am just so pleased that we have reached this point. I am very optimistic that the sale can be completed.

Speaking about the pressure of finding a buyer after Murphy Oil started a consultation on the future of the Milford Haven site in April, Crabb said: “It has felt like a race against time to find a new buyer ever since Murphy started the clock on potential closure. I am very pleased that I was able to bring the buyer into the negotiations in the first instance and help broker a deal.

“At every step of the way I have remained in close contact with all parties and have worked tirelessly to keep negotiations flowing when difficulties arose,” he added.

Murphy Oil and The Klesch Group are yet to comment on the deal.

In April, Murphy Oil said exclusive talks with a potential buyer had “recently expired” which had allowed it to negotiate with other interested parties. In March this year private equity firm Greybull Capital was reportedly in talks to buy the business . At the time, Murphy Oil said discussions were at an “advanced stage”.