Grangemouth petchem plant faces closure without govt support -Ineos
LONDON, Sept 20
LONDON, Sept 20 (Reuters) - The petrochemical plant attached to the Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland faces closure by 2017 unless it cuts pension costs and gets government support, chemicals group Ineos said on Friday, further raising tensions in a standoff with unions.
The chairman of the Ineos chemical plant said the plant will close by 2017 if cheaper feedstocks were not sourced and a 200 million pound pension fund deficit was not resolved, a spokesman for Ineos said, confirming Scottish press reports.
Sources told Reuters that Ineos is in discussions with the UK government for a loan guarantee equivalent to around 150 million euros ($203.14 million) and the Scottish government for a grant of 11 million euros ($14.86 million).
Ineos and UK and Scottish governments would not confirm the size of the support being offered or requested.
The closure of the chemical plant could also spell the imminent demise of the 210,000 barrel per day refinery, Mark Lyon, vice-chair of the Unite union and convenor at the site.
"It would undermine the viability of the refinery, as it's shown all over the world that there are many benefits when there is integration," he said.
There are some 700 people employed at the chemical plant and 500 at the refinery, a union source said.
The Unite union sent out strike ballots on Friday to its members at the oil refinery. Votes will be counted on Friday Sept 27.
Ineos, which jointly owns the refinery attached to the chemical plant with PetroChina, is engaged in a battle with the union on another front over disciplinary action against union organiser Stevie Deans.
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