Refinery shutdown 'not a threat' to motorists
Northern Ireland motorists were reassured last night that fuel supplies would not be disrupted during next week's planned strike at a Scottish oil refinery.
Up to 1,200 workers at the Ineos oil plant at Grangemouth, central Scotland, which supplies up to 95% of Northern Ireland's fuel are set to stage a two-day walkout on Sunday in a row over pensions.
However, industry insiders insist forecourts across Northern Ireland will not be affected.
Oil giant BP is expected to avail of stocks from a variety of European destinations with fuel cargo from places like Rotterdam and Gothenburg likely to dock at the Sydenham oil terminal in Belfast over the coming days. The 1,700-acre Scottish plant was closed yesterday in preparation for the strike. It is the first time production at the facility, which processes 210,000 barrels of oil a day, has been completely shut down.
Ineos said it could take up to three weeks for the plant to get back to 100% capacity.
Noel Smyth, regional manager of the Northern Ireland Petrol Retailers Association, said contingency plans put in place by oil giant BP would save the province from any fuel shortages.
He said: "Northern Ireland gets round about 90 or 95% of it's fuel from Grangemouth. As I understand it, the situation is that Northern Ireland, in the event of problems of shipping or getting fuel out, will be supplied from Rotterdam.
"It won't make much difference to us at all, really.
"In Scotland it is all road tankers used to transport fuel but according to Douglas Robertson of the Scottish motor trade association he doesn't see a problem there either, in that the normal deliveries will be happening."
Mr Smyth also said the strike was unlikely to cause any significant price hikes.
Maxol General Manager Brian Donaldson also urged drivers not to panic buy in Northern Ireland.