LONDON, Apr. 24 -- The UK has urged motorists to remain calm ahead of a planned strike at the Grangemouth refinery in Scotland that threatens to cut fuel supplies there and to the north of England.
About 1,200 workers at the 200,000 b/d refinery plan to walk out Apr. 27-28 after talks broke down with the refinery's management Ineos over pension issues. Ineos has proposed closing its final pension scheme to new employees and is seeking contributions from existing members of the scheme. It says the changes are necessary to maintain competitiveness.
BP PLC will be forced to shut down the 700,000 b/d Forties North Sea pipeline because it relies on Grangemouth for steam and power, cutting Britain's crude oil production by half. Closure of the pipeline also would affect gas production from fields in the UK North Sea.
John Hutton, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise, and Regulatory Reform, told Parliament, that increased imports would stave off the effects of the refinery's closure. He admitted that motorists had bought more fuel in Scotland, but said the government wouldn't be taking any action under its emergency powers.
The UK Petroleum Industry Association, which represents the downstream arms of major oil operators, said there were sufficient supplies at Grangemouth to meet Scotland's needs through the stoppage.
"Cargoes of product are being sourced to satisfy demand during the period the refinery is coming back on stream," said Chris Hunt, the association's director general. "There have been temporary stock-outs caused by panic-buying, but service stations will be replenished as soon as possible."
Contact Uchenna Izundu at email@example.com.