Grangemouth: Salmond held talks with Greenergy

FIRST Minister Alex Salmond held secret talks last week with a potential buyer for the closure-threatened Grangemouth industrial site before it was spared the axe.

First Minister Alex Salmond talks to Unite's Len McCluskey. Picture: PA

London-based Greenergy was being lined up by the SNP administration to take over from Ineos if it had pulled the plug on the petrochemical plant, it emerged yesterday.

The First Minister met Greenergy chief executive Andrew Owens last Thursday.

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Ineos majority shareholder Jim Ratcliffe had branded the prospect of an alternative buyer “absurd” at the weekend.

The prospect of any sale was mothballed on Friday after Ineos reversed its decision to close the petrochemical facility, which would have cost 800 jobs, and restart the oil refinery.

Mr Owens founded Greenergy in 1992. It supplies about 13.5 billion litres of petrol, diesel and biofuel, accounting for more than 25 per cent of Britain’s road-fuel market. Its customers include forecourts, oil companies, supermarkets and transport operators. Earlier this year, it started to supply 90 Esso dealers covering Scotland, Wales and the north of England. It recorded a turnover of £14.6 billion in 2012-13 and an operating profit of £21.9 million. It was part of a consortium that acquired the Coryton refinery in Essex last year and bought the Petroplus refinery site in Teeside.

Mr Salmond also held talks on Thursday with BP, whose Kinneil terminal relies on steam from Grangemouth. The meeting helped pave the way for a deal between management and the union.

A spokesman for Mr Salmond said: “The Scottish Government was very open about the fact that we were talking to a number of interested parties about Grangemouth, developing a substantial alternative if closure proposals were to proceed.

“In the event, plan A – of reversing the decision and securing the investment for the long term – was successful, and therefore plan B has not been required.”

A Greenergy spokesman said: “We do not comment on private meetings.”