French oil major Total will probably keep its Lindsey refinery after failing to sell the plant in the last two years, Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie told reporters on Thursday.

Total had hoped to find a buyer for the 221,000 barrels-per-day refinery, Britain's third-largest, by the end of last year. The plant began operations in 1968 and employs about 500 people

We will soon take a decision, the CEO said. We will probably, given a lack of buyers, put the refinery back into our refining system.

It's important these sorts of decisions are taken for the long-term. We will not close a refinery just because margins have been going down for a month.

A lack of clear and effective policy for UK refiners may have deterred buyers, the UK's oil industry body said last year, threatening the sector with further closures and reduced national fuel supplies.

We will do everything to ensure there is no disruption in supplies, that's our responsibility, Margerie said.

Total has been struggling for years with its refining business in Europe due to poor margins and weak demand for fuel products.

The merger of its refining and chemical divisions should create a separate marketing business to deal with the supply and purchase of oil products.

In December, the results were once again particularly bad, Margerie said, referring to negative refining margins. In France, in Europe, even in the United States, it's not good.

Total has been reducing its exposure to the low-performing refining sector for several years. It shut its French Dunkirk refinery in 2010.

(Reporting by Caroline Jacobs and Benjamin Mallet; Editing by James Regan)