Grangemouth Also Matters – 22 February 2024


As Labour, SNP and Tory all beat their chests and battle it out over who cares most about North Sea oil, they ignore the plight of Grangemouth Refinery. It also matters but has shamefully been ignored, even hidden by governments both sides of the border.

The growing threat to the plant matched by an inverse level of interest in and action by the authorities. Yet it’s absurd to be proclaiming your party as the saviour of Scottish oil and the Northeast of the country whilst allowing the Nation’s only Refinery to face closure. Scotland will be the only major oil producing nation without a refining capacity, placing itself in the ranks of developing nations who even produce less oil, such as Congo and Trinidad and Tobago.

The threat’s severe, and its impact will not just be on the economy but the environment. Moreover, its impact far wider than simply befalling Grangemouth and the Forth Valley. The economic reverberations will rumble across Central Scotland and the environmental consequences will strike on the west coast as much as on the east.

Why when there’s bellicosity from the major parties on oil extraction is their almost silence on refining? It’s part of the process and a clear part of the supply chain for both work and product. It’s hard to see any logic to this other than Tories who say it’s simply a commercial decision and nothing for them.

But of course, it’s for them and things can be done. They’re the Government and got £8 billion in revenues from the North Sea last year and anticipate a further £6.1 billion this year. The Refinery’s profitable but commercially that needs to be more to be competitive. A very modest investment would increase that threefold. Surely, from the largesse Treasury has received, a few quid can be found. Also, in these troubled times incentivising refining at home’s a no brainer for energy security.

Perhaps, Labour and SNP think it’s environmentally better to see it close. For sure there are emissions, but they’ll be dwarfed by the carbon footprint generated if it closes. Super tankers will be heaving refined and unrefined product up and down the River Forth. These ships use a crude product, and the emissions are massive. If you think a cruise ship’s heavy on its carbon footprint , think what a full tanker ploughing through the waves must be.

The average oil tanker burns over 20,000 gallons of diesel per day. Burning one gallon of diesel creates 22.38 pounds of carbon dioxide. Hundreds, indeed, thousands, of ships sailing in and out will create massive carbon emissions. Global oil tanker transportation was estimated at 210 million metric tons of CO2 in 2020. We’ll be getting far more than our share needlessly when Grangemouth Refinery could be used.

And don’t think it’ll only be on the east coast with ships going in and out from Queensferry or Grangemouth. The plan after closures to bring more oil into Finnart in Argyll where there’s a pipeline to Grangemouth, which have moved from a refinery to simply being a storage terminal. It’ll not be as Bonnie on the Banks of the Clyde as supertankers plough their way in and out. Leaving aside emissions, the risk from spillage or accidents massive on both Firths.

It’s why allowing Grangemouth to close is economic and environmental lunacy.