Ineos writes down value of UK Grangemouth petchem plant to zero
* Says the business is worthless after 4 years of losses
* Workers there will on Tuesday begin industrial action
LONDON Oct 4 (Reuters) - Oil refiner Ineos has written down the value of its Grangemouth, UK petrochemical plant to zero, it said on Friday, further raising the stakes in a complex dispute with workers at the facility who are due to start industrial action next week.
The privately owned, Swiss-based refining and chemical plant owner Ineos said it had invested more than 1 billion pounds ($1.62 billion) since taking over at the Grangemouth plant in 2006, but that it continued to lose money.
"We had no option but to write down these assets," Calum MacLean, chairman of the Grangemouth Petrochemicals Business, said in a statement.
"After four years of heavy losses, the petrochemicals business is effectively worthless. Without lower costs and an alternative source of additional raw material it will close 2017, at the latest."
Writing down the value of the plant could put pressure on the workers to accept lesser terms and conditions in their dispute with Ineos.
The Grangemouth petrochemical plant in Scotland is attached to a 210,000 barrel per day refinery, which Ineos jointly owns with PetroChina.
Oil traders are closely watching the dispute, as the refinery provides steam for a pipeline that brings crude oil from the Forties North Sea oilfield, one of the four crude grades that underpins the Brent benchmark.
Analysts said there should be a way of keeping the refinery running.
"Grangemouth is a world class, integrated refining and petrochemical site with flexible feed capability," said Matthew Kuhl, senior consultant at KBC Advanced Technologies in Houston. "There should be a way to make it economically viable."
On Monday, Ineos announced what it described as a "survival plan" to keep the plant in operation, involving job cuts and reducing the value of pension plans.
Workers there will on Tuesday morning begin industrial action involving an overtime ban and working to rule in the dispute that involves a disciplinary matter of an employee at the plant.
Union representatives were unavailable for comment on the latest statement from Ineos.
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