Archive for April 21st, 2008

Ineos, the people who run the large oil refinery at Grangemouth are in a dispute with the Unite union over pension rights.    The Union have called a two day strike next week, but the problem is (so the employer says) that you can’t just turn a refinery off for two days – it takes a week to close and more time to open again.    Ineos say that Scotland could have no fuel next week and shortages for a whole month – because of the two day strike.

I realise that there is some ‘positioning’ going on here, but yesterday’s headlines said ‘Don’t Panic’.   This predictably produced queues of motorists at forecourts, as pictured in today’s papers.    I expect that tomorrow we shall see a picture of a forecourt with a ‘no petrol’ sign.    It has been irresponsible behaviour from the parties involved and the Press in particular.

You see, even with Grangemouth closed for a month, there is enough fuel to go round.     We have 70 days stock.    Grangemouth produces 10% of the UK’s fuel, and with early mobilisation and transport arrangements of fuel from elsewhere, it should be possible to maintain fuel supplies.     It is a message that the Government needs to publically support.

During the last fuel protests, as we watched the supermarket shelves thin, and as we began to drive everywhere much slower than normal to conserve fuel, I think we were 24 to 48 hours away from serious civil unrest before the protest was called off.

I hope that it does not come to this again.    Ineos and the Unite have been urged to keep talking by the Scottish Government, who themselves have started early contingency planning.

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