* Refinery outage could cause disruption to Forties grade
* Strike prompted by alleged victimisation of worker
* Decision to be made by union on Monday or Tuesday
By Simon Falush
LONDON, Sept 27 Workers at the 210,000
barrel-per-day (bpd) oil refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland voted
on Friday in favour of strike action, raising fears of
disruption to North Sea oil supplies that could drive up the
benchmark oil price.
Steam from the Grangemouth refinery, owned by PetroIneos
, powers the adjoining Kinneil terminal,
which receives oil from a pipeline carrying North Sea Forties,
one of the four crudes that underpins the Brent oil benchmark.
"It could be very bullish for Brent...due to the Kinneil
tie-up with the refinery," one trader said.
A strike at the refinery in 2008 led to concerns about oil
supplies and queues at petrol stations around Scotland as well
as pushing gasoil futures to a record high.
Brent oil rose following the news on Friday,
reversing direction from a fall earlier in the day.
Over 80 percent of the workers balloted voted in favour of
strike action over operator Ineos's treatment of a union
organiser and worker, Stephen Deans, who is at the centre of a
disciplinary action, the union said on Friday.
A decision on the next steps for industrial action would be
taken will be made after the weekend, Pat Rafferty, Scotland's
Regional Secretary told Reuters.
"We've clearly got a strong mandate. We're consulting with
out shop stewards and will notify the company on Monday or
Ineos is investigating Deans over whether his political
activities with the Labour Party contravened company policy, and
accuses the union of interfering with its inquiry.
"Ineos will not be bullied by the union's behaviour. There
cannot be one rule for union officials and one rule for everyone
else," said Calum MacLean, chairman of Ineos Petrochemicals UK.
Ineos said that the investigation into Deans will be
completed by Oct. 25.
The Forties pipeline was expected to load about 329,000 bpd
A spokeswoman for BP, which operates Kinneil,
confirmed that it relies on steam from Grangemouth but said she
could not comment on the impact of a possible strike.
Relations between the workforce and Ineos, already strained
by the investigation into Deans, were put under further pressure
after comments about the future of the chemical plant.
MacLean said last week the plant could close by 2017 unless
it cuts pension costs and got government support.