Why such political silence on Grangemouth when its loss would be lunacy ? - Kenny MacAskill

As Labour, SNP and Tory all beat their chests and battle it out over who cares most about North Sea oil, they ignore the plight of Grangemouth Refinery. It also matters but has shamefully been ignored - even hidden - by governments both sides of the border.

The growing threat to the plant is matched by an inverse level of interest and action by the authorities.

Yet, it’s absurd to be proclaiming your party as both the saviour of Scottish oil and the North East whilst allowing the nation’s only refinery to face closure. It would leave Scotland as the only major oil producing nation without a refining capacity, placing itself in the ranks of developing nations who even produce less oil, such as Congo and Trinidad and Tobago.

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The threat is severe and its impact will not just on the economy but the environment too. Moreover, its impact is far wider than simply befalling Grangemouth and the Forth Valley. The economic reverberations will rumble across central Scotland and the environmental consequences will also strike on the west coast.

Why is there bellicosity from the major parties on oil extraction when there is almost silence on refining? Refining is part of the process and a clear link of the supply chain for both work and product. It’s hard to see any logic to this.

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The Tories say it is simply a commercial decision and nothing to intervene in. Of course it is for them when they are the Government which received £8 billion in revenues from the North Sea last year with a further £6.1 billion due this year. The refinery is profitable but commercially needs to be more competitive. A very modest investment would increase that threefold. Surely, from what the Treasury has received, a few quid can be found. Also, in these troubled times, incentivising refining at home is a no brainer for energy security.

Perhaps, Labour and SNP think it is environmentally better to see it close. Of course there are emissions, but they will be dwarfed by the carbon footprint generated if it shuts. Super tankers will be heaving refined and unrefined product up and down the River Forth. These ships use a crude product, and the emissions are massive. If you think a cruise ship is heavy on its carbon footprint, think what a full tanker and its wash will emit.

The average oil tanker burns over 20,000 gallons of diesel per day. Burning one gallon of diesel creates 22.38 pounds of carbon dioxide. Hundreds, indeed, thousands, of ships sailing in and out will create massive carbon emissions. Global oil tanker transportation was estimated at 210 million metric tons of CO2 in 2020. We’ll needlessly be getting far more than our share when Grangemouth refinery could be used.

And don’t think it’ll only be ships going in and out from Queensferry or Grangemouth. The plan after closure is to bring more oil into Finnart in Argyll where there’s a pipeline to Grangemouth, which will have moved from a refinery to simply being a storage terminal. It’ll not be as bonnie on the banks of the Clyde as supertankers plough their way in and out. The risk from spillage or accidents is massive on both firths and allowing Grangemouth to close is economic and environmental lunacy.

Kenny MacAskill is the Alba MP for East Lothian