Every opportunity to extend life of refinery will be explored, vows minister

Petroineos said Grangemouth will become a fuel import terminal from 2025 (Jane Barlow/PA)
Petroineos said Grangemouth will become a fuel import terminal from 2025 (Jane Barlow/PA)

Scotland’s Energy Secretary has said he will explore every opportunity to extend operations at the country’s only oil refinery beyond 2025 – but is not one to set “unrealistic expectations”.

Neil Gray said he will work with colleagues in the Scottish Government and the UK Government to look at every avenue for extending the life of the refinery at Grangemouth and ensuring there is a continued industrial operation at the wider site.

Petroineos, which owns the plant at Grangemouth, on Wednesday announced the site will stop operating in 2025 and become a fuel import terminal.

The firm said the site “faces significant challenges due to global market pressures and the energy transition”.

Neil Gray
Neil Gray vowed to explore ‘every possible opportunity and avenue’ to extend the life of the refinery (PA)

It is understood the proposals could result in the loss of around 400 jobs

Speaking on a visit to Digital Content Analysis (D-CAT) in Glasgow, Mr Gray told the PA news agency: “I will look at exploring every opportunity that there might be to extend it beyond 2025, but I am not one to set unrealistic expectations, this is an incredibly challenging situation and that has been outlined by Petroineos that the global factors that are at play are extremely challenging.

“I’m due to meet with local and national MSPs and MPs later on today to set out some of that.

“I’m looking to collaborate not just with colleagues across the Parliament but also with those in the UK Government to make sure that we are looking at every possible opportunity and avenue that there might be for extending the life of the refinery, and indeed to ensure that there is a continued industrial operation at the wider Grangemouth site as well.”

Mr Gray has written to UK Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho and said he has asked for a meeting in “very short order”.

He said he is looking to work “constructively” with the UK Government.

Asked whether operations ceasing at Grangemouth would have an impact on fuel security, he said: “That is a responsibility for UK ministers, my understanding is that they are keeping this under constant review.”

Mr Gray said he met with trade unions this week.

Grangemouth refinery plans
Current operations will cease at Grangemouth in 2025 (Jane Barlow/PA)

He said: “I’ve given a commitment to both Unite the union and the STUC that I’ll continue to work closely with them, because my first thought is obviously with the workforce who have given a significant commitment over the years to Petroineos, have taken them through an incredibly challenging period, and the message that both the First Minister and I gave to the site management is that that has to be their first consideration – making sure that they are looking after the workforce who have served them so well over the years.”

Around 500 permanent staff work at the refinery and the owners believe around 100 would be needed to operate an import terminal.

Earlier this week, Franck Demay, chief executive at Petroineos Refining, said the company anticipates continuing refinery operations until spring 2025.

He said: “This is the start of a journey to transform our operation from one that manufactures fuel products into a business that imports finished fuel products for onward distribution to customers.

“Throughout this process, our focus will remain on the safe production and reliable supply of high-quality fuels to our customers in Scotland, the north of England and Northern Ireland.

“As we start to make this investment in preparing for a future transformation, we are equally committed to a regular programme of engagement with our colleagues about the changes we are making to our business.”