The final part of the massive Grangemouth site that was once proudly described as the ‘jewel in the crown of Scotland’s petrochemicals industry’ has changed hands in a £200 million deal.
Energy giants Ineos now has control of the last piece of the giant jigsaw BP started building on the shores of the Firth of Forth in 1924 after buying the crude oil terminal at Kinneil and the Forties Pipeline System (FPS) that supplies it.
The move means Ineos, who bought the petrochemicals complex from BP in 2005, now owns an asset that delivers almost 40 per cent of the UK’s North Sea oil and gas.
Chairman and founder Jim Ratcliffe has given assurances the 300 jobs involved are safe, but the Unite union says it has concerns.
Unite was involved in two bitter disputes with the company over the treatment of workers at the refinery in 2008 and 2013.
Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty admitted: “We have serious concerns about the security of their jobs, pensions and terms of conditions under Ineos. Unite firmly believes this sale is bad for Scotland and the UK and every MSP and MP in Scotland has a responsibility to make their position clear. Do they believe this sale is in the national interest?
“It’s not so long ago Grangemouth and the Forties pipeline were owned by all of us and operated by a nationalised British Petroleum with a responsibility to look at what was good for the country as a whole, not just what was good for a small group of wealthy individuals.
“Both these parts of vital national infrastructure – which are central to the success of the Scottish and wider UK economy – are now essentially in the hands of one man who during the course of our 2013 dispute threatened to close the refinery for ever.”
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald said: “Whilst I’m disappointed BP decided to sell, I’m encouraged Ineos regard the Forties pipeline and Kinneil plant as a strategic asset and would encourage it to engage constructively with the union to ensure a smooth transition and employee confidence in the coming months and years.”
The 235 mile Forties Pipeline System can handle 575,000 barrels of oil a day. It links 85 North Sea oil and gas platforms to the mainland and the Ineos site at Grangemouth.
Mr Ratcliffe said: “This is another very significant deal for Ineos. We have a strong track record of acquiring non-core assets and improving their efficiency and reliability, securing long-term employment and investment.”
BP Group chief executive Bob Dudley said: “While the Forties pipeline had great significance in BPs history, our business here is now centred around our major interests west of Shetland and Central North Sea.
“The pipeline has long been an impostant feedstock supplier to Ineos at Grangemouth and we believe through also owning FPS, it will produce greater efficiencies and help secure a competitive long-term future for this important piece of UK oil and gas infrastructure.”