Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's oil supplies secure despite doubts over future of Grangemouth refinery

BY CLAIRE GRAHAM

Northern's Ireland's fuel imports won't be jeopardised despite a question mark hanging over the future of our main supplier, experts have said.

A bitter dispute over pay and conditions has led to the closure of the huge Grangemouth petrochemicals site, and liquidators will be appointed within the next few days to start running down the facility in Scotland.

The adjoining refinery, which is staying open, supplies most of the fuel to Northern Ireland, including diesel, petrol and heating oil.

Two weeks ago a Stormont committee was warned to look at contingency plans in case refinery operations were to be stopped by industrial action.

Brian Madderson of the Retail Motor Industry Federation said there is "fortunate flexibility" for accessing fuel in Northern Ireland.

"Northern Ireland is able to get supplies from other parts of the mainland. Grangemouth is certainly not the only option available," he said.

There are four access ports here for fuel, three in Belfast and one in Londonderry. Other main fuel importers are Dublin-based DCC Energy and the American firm NuStar, both using facilities at Belfast Harbour.

David Blevings from Northern Ireland Oil Federation said: "The resilience of the oil sector at a local level is excellent and with current mild weather oil stocks are plentiful."

Chair of Stormont's enterprise committee Patsy McGlone said: "It is sad for those who have lost their jobs and those with family members who may have lost their jobs.

"But from what I'm being told there is fuel security for us here in the North."

Unite said it had made new proposals in a "last-ditch" effort to save the site.

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