Page last updated at 14:19 GMT, Monday, 28 April 2008 15:19 UK

Ships bring extra oil amid strike

Petrol tanker refilling at a BP forecourt on the M8 at Harthill
A petrol tanker refilling at a BP petrol station on the M8 at Harthill

Extra fuel supplies have started arriving in Scotland, to make up for possible shortages caused by the Grangemouth strike.

A tanker carrying 2,000 tonnes of diesel and 1,000 tonnes of kerosene has unloaded its cargo at Aberdeen harbour. Hundreds of staff at Scotland's only oil refinery are half way through a two-day strike over pensions.

About 1,200 workers are taking part in the strike which began on Sunday and ends on Tuesday morning.

The Scottish Government said that by midday on Saturday, five of Scotland's 956 filling stations were out of fuel, with 70 partly out of fuel.

The Border Thistle, which docked in Aberdeen on Sunday evening at BP and Shell's Point Law terminal, was unloaded into storage tanks at the harbour side.

Fuel trucks have begun the task of taking the fuel to filling stations across the north-east.

Two out of seven fuel tankers heading to Grangemouth with extra fuel have already arrived in the Forth.

5,700 tonnes of diesel and kerosene on the Antares from Teesport
10,000 tonnes of diesel on the BIT Octania from Gothenburg
12-14,000 tonnes of diesel on the Alsterstern from Amsterdam
1,850 tonnes of motorspirit on the Audacity from Immingham
14,000 tonnes of diesel on the Anefani from Rotterdam
4,000 tonnes of diesel and kerosene on the Humber Fisher from Teesport
14,000 tonnes of diesel on the Bro Developer from Rotterdam

In total, the seven tankers are due to arrive within the first few days of the week containing nearly 65,000 tonnes of fuel - said to be about 10 days' worth.

Oil workers at Grangemouth's Ineos refinery are due to return to work at 0600 BST on Tuesday.

The strike has also closed BP's key Forties oil pipeline, which provides 30% of the UK's daily oil output from the North Sea.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has called for both sides in the dispute to hold talks to resolve it as quickly as possible.

Ineos and the Unite union have yet to agree to fresh talks.

Malcolm Webb, chief executive of Oil and Gas UK, urged ministers to intervene to get the Forties pipeline operational again.

He told the BBC: "We are calling on the Government now to get involved in this and bring these two parties together.

People are panic buying fuel and there are shortages here already
Kerrie, Peterhead

"The Government is the biggest single loser in all of this. Over 1m an hour is being lost in tax while this pipeline is down."

The UK Business and Enterprise Secretary John Hutton said there were signs that the two sides were listening to pleas for a resolution to the dispute to be found.

He told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "I hope that the two sides will get back into discussions as quickly as possible either directly between themselves or under the auspices of Acas, who did a very good job last week to try and broker a deal between the two sides.

"There is a gap still between the two sides, and the question is how can that gap be addressed and how can we get normal operations back at Grangemouth."

Ineos general manager Gordon Grant said the company's current contribution to employees' pensions was "unsustainable".

He said: "We bent over backwards to try and avoid this strike but, unfortunately, the trade unions have decided to go ahead with it - premature in our view - but that's what they've done."

Unite has taken out advertisements in newspapers explaining the reasons for the strike and asking for public support and understanding.

The union's national officer Phil McNulty said: "This is about a demand by an employer that we accept the closure of a pension scheme and we are not going to do that.

"We are going back to work tomorrow and we want a period of peaceful reflection. We want to negotiate, there is no doubt about that, but we won't give in on this."


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