Refinery strike 'no excuse' for fuel price hike

April 25, 2008 | By | In Statistics

Despite walkout there’s plenty of fuel, says garages, and no reason for price rises.

The planned strike by oil refinery workers in Scotland could cost the UK £50m a day. The walk out, due for Sunday, will have a knock-on effect that could hit the nation’s economy hard. Staff at the Grangemouth site, which supplies a tenth of the UK’s fuel and is the only refinery in Scotland, are in dispute with management over pension payments. If the action gs ahead, it will be the first total shutdown in the location's history.

But, for now, there’s little risk of pumps across Scotland running dry – unless everyone panics and fills their tanks. The Retail Motor Industry Federation, which represents garage owners, says there is enough in reserve to last for 10 weeks. However, if drivers rush to the pumps, the police have emergency powers to clear forecourt queues. Forecourt staff may also be instructed to limit purchases of fuel to £20 per customer. It’s also possible that some forecourts in remote areas could run dry temporarily because of ‘hiccups’ in supply. BP is, however, withdrawing a promotion it is running in Scotland and northern England that offered double Nectar card points to drivers who fill-up twice within a week. The company said it sent the ‘wrong message’ at this time.

Fuel prices are already running at record levels and Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney said it would be ‘unacceptable’ for any retailer to take advantage of public fears over fuel supplies and raise prices. Grangemouth is linked to the BP Kinnell processing site, which receives 725,000 barrels of crude oil per day and also natural gas from the Forties pipeline in the North Sea.

While staff are planning to stay away for only two days initially, it will take much longer for the site to return to normal working. Parts of the refinery runs at temperatures up to 900deg C and the system has to cool and heat up again gradually, over several days.

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