Page last updated at 17:27 GMT, Saturday, 26 April 2008 18:27 UK

'Weeks' to re-start strike plant

Grangemouth refinery

Scotland's only oil refinery will take up to three weeks to start up again, following a workers' strike.

Workers at the Grangemouth plant will walk out for 48 hours on Sunday, amid a pensions dispute.

However, UK Business Secretary John Hutton said there was enough fuel to get through the action.

Grangemouth operator Ineos said it would still take two or three weeks to get back up and running, despite safety cover being provided by workers.

Meanwhile, oil and gas operators urged UK ministers to intervene in the dispute - which will result in the closure of the BP Forties pipeline which provides 30% of the UK's daily oil output from the north sea.

Some petrol stations in Scotland have reported running out of fuel - but the situation had calmed down compared to earlier in the week, the Scottish Motor Trade Association said.

Our first and foremost concern at the moment is to make sure that there are adequate supplies in Scotland of petrol and diesel - and there are
John Hutton
UK business secretary

Grangemouth general manager Gordon Grant told BBC News: "We've been buying fuels in the market place and we've been bringing them into Grangemouth and sending them back out by road and sea."

Mr Grant also made an 11th-hour bid for the Unite union to get back round the negotiating table, saying changes to the company pension scheme were needed as part of a modernisation programme.

"We need to modernise everything we do. We need to be competitive in everything we do, pensions is just one part of that modernisation programme".

Dispute 'damage'

The Forties pipeline brings 700,000 barrels of oil and 80 million cubic metres of gas a day to BP's Kinneil plant, which is powered from the Grangemouth site.

It will have been shutdown by 0600 BST on Sunday, at the start of the strike.

Oil and Gas UK said the move would cost the UK 50m a day - half of which would apply to the Treasury - and called for ministers to step in.

Mr Hutton said most UK companies were looking at their pension schemes, but added: "It is in no-one's interest for the damage to spread from this industrial action to companies who are not parties to it and shouldn't be drawn into it in this way.

"It doesn't serve anyone's interest in this dispute for the damage to be spread."

He stressed: "Our first and foremost concern at the moment is to make sure that there are adequate supplies in Scotland of petrol and diesel - and there are - to last through this period and beyond."


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