AN SNP minister has insisted her government is intent on “future-proofing” the Grangemouth industrial hub amid speculation a Chinese state-owned backer wants to sell its stake.
The Scottish Government has confirmed that a just transition plan for the key industrial site is being drawn up in an attempt to safeguard its future.
Reports have suggested that PetroChina, which has a 50 per cent stake in the Ineos refinery, wants to sell its share of the investment and is close to hiring restructuring experts to examine its options.
The Sunday Times reported that Ineos would be unlikely to want to buy back the 50% stake, raising the prospect that the company could need government support if it were to enter administration.
SNP Environment Minister Mairi McAllan, told MSPs that “Grangemouth is a source of critical infrastructure, energy resilience, skilled manufacturing and high-value employment” but claimed “it would not be at all appropriate” to comment on any of the speculation.
She added: “However, the Grangemouth cluster with its world-leading engineering experience, expertise and low-carbon manufacturing potential should play an important role in our net zero economy.
“We continue to work closely with the industry and key businesses there to harness that potential.”
But Tory MSP Tess White warned that the 600 staff at the Grangemouth refinery “will understandably be alarmed by the prospect of restructuring at the refinery”.
She added: “Grangemouth accounts for 4% of Scottish GDP and eight per cent of Scotland’s manufacturing. As a critical national infrastructure, it supplies two thirds of petrol and diesel in Scotland as well as the jet fuels for airports.
“A change in outlook for the refinery’s future has wide-ranging and wide-reaching repercussions.
“What assessment has the Scottish Government made of the economic impact of potential restructuring as well as the impact on energy resilience and full supply?”
Pointing to the Grangemouth Future Industry Board, Ms McAllan said the panel “will initiate and lead on the design of a just transition plan for the Grangemouth industrial cluster in line with the principles of a just transition”.
She added: “This plan for the complex will be built collectively, it will be built in consultation with a wide range of invested stakeholders and that should include, of course, industry.
“Future-proofing this vital industrial hub and working in partnership with industry is our objective and will help to support a long-term sustainable and vibrant future for Grangemouth for all those who live and work there.”