Ineos plans to use floating tanker to store fuel

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A petrochemical giant plans to use a tanker moored in the Port of Grangemouth to store petrol and diesel.

Although proposals for ship-to-ship transfers have sparked concern in the past about spillage risks, Petroineos’s plans to site a “Floating Storage Unit” (FSU) within the Port of Grangemouth has received the backing of local groups and officials.

Petroineos is refurbishing its tank storage area.

It will use the tanker to meet storage needs for the two years the work will take.

Forth Ports stated: “Petroineos proposes trans­ferring product to and from the unit, directly from other vessels berthed alongside.

‘‘The FSU and the other vessels will have a full, trained crew onboard, along with a very experienced superintendent to specifically oversee transfer operations.”

East Falkirk MP Michael Connarty supports the project.

He said: “This proposal will be beneficial to the operation of the refinery at Grangemouth and it is supported by the workforce as well as the management. I was satisfied the additional controls and safeguards to protect the outer docks and the river from adverse impact, even in the most unlikely event of a spillage, were of the highest standard to the point of being failsafe.

“I believe it will not place the environmental integrity of the docks at risk.”

The transfer of product between the vessels and the FSU requires an oil transfer licence from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Forth Ports, as the port authority, is now in the process of applying for this on behalf of Petroineos.

Both Forth Ports and Petroineos have undertaken assessments to ensure the plans will be environmentally safe and held discussions with a number of organisations, including Falkirk Council, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Grangemouth Community Council was not consulted on the plans, but does not have any objections.

Convener Walter Inglis, said: “We weren’t consulted on this in any way, which is perhaps a bit unusual, but Forth Ports really has carte blanch to do what it wants within the port.

“Our take on it is that it is not like the ship-to-ship transfer which was proposed in the River Forth some time ago where you were dealing with open tidal water. This floating storage unit is going to be enclosed within a dock.

“The only concern would be a vessel passing through the port letting any spillage that did occur out into open water. If a spillage did occur in the confined area you feel it would be pretty heavily managed.”