Page last updated at 17:51 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 18:51 UK

Refinery strike price hike fears

A general view of the Rix garage in Kirkcaldy, Fife, that is charging 1.30 for a litre for diesel
One garage in Fife was charging 1.30 a litre for diesel

Planned strike action at a Scottish oil refinery should not be used to increase in the price of fuel at the pumps, a senior petrol industry figure has said.

Workers at the Grangemouth refinery are in talks with management from Ineos in a bid to head off the two-day stoppage.

Chris Hunt, director general of the UK Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA), made his comments as prices were increased at some petrol stations.

One outlet in Kirkcaldy, Fife, was charging 1.30 for a litre of diesel.

Crude oil

Rix Garage was also limiting customers to 10 worth of fuel each.

It had briefly charged 1.45 a litre for diesel on Monday while unleaded petrol was at 1.25.

A garage spokesman said it was because of a "misunderstanding with the computer".

He said: "It was only for 20 minutes until the computer was reset."

There have been long queues at many petrol stations, with some running out of fuel.

Mr Hunt said Grangemouth had plentiful fuel stocks to cater for consumers should the industrial action go ahead on Sunday and Monday.

He said: "Grangemouth is a UK refinery processing crude oil into finished petroleum products; it therefore has no effect on internationally traded crude oil, which ultimately forms the basis of prices at the pumps.

He added that some petrol stations had run out of fuel but this was due to panic buying.

Douglas Robertson, chief executive of the Scottish Motor Trade Association, said that if a garage suddenly put its prices up by four or five pence it would suggest profiteering.

Up to 1,200 Grangemouth workers are due to walk out at the weekend.

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Round-up of fuel availability across Scotland

The strike was voted for in response to plans by Ineos to end its final salary pension scheme for new workers and to make other changes.

These included the introduction of contributions to the pension scheme from the workers.

Ineos said it had made a number of concessions to the union which it said represented a "significant improvement" on its initial proposals.

Talks at the conciliation service Acas are now well into their second day.

Operators Ineos began a scaled shutdown of the plant on Monday.

Falkirk Council warned residents in the area not to be alarmed by additional flaring from the plant over the next 48 hours, as it continued to shut down.




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