Grangemouth refinery being shut concurrent with talks to avert strike

Ineos' Grangemouth refinery in Scotland is gradually being shut down, even as talks are on between management and union representatives to avert a strike planned for Sunday. The company is being cornered into closing the plants at the site gradually in order to make the site safe and ready for the strike on Sunday. The refinery, which is integrated with a petrochemicals plant, began shutting a distillation unit which processes crude oil for further refining into motor fuels. After failing to reach agreement on pensions during negotiations in London on Tuesday, talks between Ineos management and union leaders resumed on Wednesday. The refinery would have to shut down completely if the two-day strike proceeds on Sunday, reducing UK fuel supplies. Britain's gas supplies could also be affected if the Forties pipeline feeding the refinery has to reduce flows of oil from under the North Sea. If the two-day strike goes ahead and forces the whole 200,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery to close, Scotland and northern England could face shortages of motor fuel, especially diesel. The government has exempted oil companies from competition restrictions that prevent them from sharing stock information, to help suppliers line up stopgap deliveries and prevent petrol pump shortages. But the fuel import jetties at Grangemouth could also be forced to close if union leaders do not agree to provide safety cover at Grangemouth's docks to allow backup fuel to be delivered to make up for lost production from the refinery.
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