Keir Starmer urged to halt Grangemouth refinery closure and prevent act of 'industrial vandalism'

Keir Starmer has been urged to work with SNP ministers to help protect jobs at Scotland's last remaining oil refinery.

The Prime Minister said yesterday the future of Grangemouth was a "real priority" for him and he had a "duty" to help workers at the giant industrial complex on the Forth.

The Labour leader's intervention has been welcomed by Unite the union amid growing pressure on refinery owners Petroineos to extend the lifespan of the facility.

Around 400 jobs could be lost if refining operations end next year - although no timetable for closure has yet been confirmed.

Derek Thomson, Unite Scottish secretary, said: "We warmly welcomes the Prime Minister’s resolve to protect jobs at Grangemouth and that it is an issue of major concern for the new Labour Government.

"Unite firmly believes the refinery’s lifespan must be extended, and that investment must be unlocked to sustain its operations until any Just Transition can take place in a managed and orderly way. Grangemouth is the nation’s foremost industrial complex and it is pivotal to our manufacturing base and energy security.

Grangemouth petrochemical plant in Grangemouth where refinery operations could cease  by 2025
Scotland's last remaining oil refinery at Grangemouth could cease production by 2025 -Credit: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

"The UK and Scottish governments must work together to prevent the oil refinery being added to the acts of industrial vandalism which have scarred our nation.

"The stakes are high because 500 direct jobs are dependent on the oil refinery and thousands more in the supply chain. Unite’s message is simple: Keep Grangemouth Working.”

Speaking to reporters in Edinburgh on Sunday, Starmer promised "immediate" discussions over the site's future.

The Labour leader said it was a "real priority" following proposals to end refining operations at the huge industrial complex on the Forth, which could result in hundreds of job losses

Starmer added his new Government would see "what steps we can now take" to protect its future.

Asked about the PM's comments, Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie, said: "It's early stages but my understanding is both the UK and the Scottish government are committed to working together.

"Of course for us, we've said we want to make Grangemouth home to the industries of the future. We've talked about establishing a decarbonisation hub, linked to carbon capture and storage projects."

Following a meeting with Starmer at Bute House, John Swinney said he had committed to working collaboratively on areas of “common ground” with the UK Government. including growing the economy and delivering net zero.

Refinery owners Petroineos announced in November last year the site would "soon be unable to compete effectively" with overseas rivals.

The company - a joint venture between Ineos and the Chinese state-owned PetroChina - signalled refining could end as soon as April 2025, but a final closure date has not been confirmed.

Petroineos also revealed plans to transition the site to become an oil import terminal. Such a move could protect around 100 of the 500 jobs directly employed by the refinery.

It would mean North Sea oil would be transported abroad for refining before being shipped back to Scotland as diesel and jet fuel.

A spokesman for Peroineos said: “Keir Starmer became PM on Friday so we haven’t met his team yet but we’re encouraged by his strong expression of support for the workforce here and look forward to discussing in more detail the future transformation of the refinery and, particularly, exploring the full range of low-carbon opportunities that exist.”

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