‘Greedy’ Ineos claims Grangemouth grant despite refinery closure 6

‘Greedy’ Ineos claims Grangemouth grant despite refinery closure

Ineos has been branded as ‘greedy’ for taking over £400,000 in Scottish taxpayer ‘handouts’ months after the firm announced it was closing the Grangemouth oil refinery – a move that could cost hundreds of jobs. 

The Scottish Government’s business agency, Scottish Enterprise, told The Ferret it paid £428,000 to Jim Ratcliffe’s firm for work at Grangemouth in March.

The payment was made four months after Petroineos – a joint venture between Ineos and Chinese state-owned firm PetroChina – announced the looming closure of its oil refinery at Grangemouth. 

Although a final closure date is yet to be announced, the refinery could be converted into a fuel import terminal as soon as 2025, in a move that could cost 400 jobs.

Friends of the Earth accused Ineos of being “greedy” and said the Scottish Government “were being taken for fools” giving “handouts” to a company “threatening to cut and run on workers at Grangemouth”. 

The campaign group questioned why the public had to “subsidise” Ineos when its owner is “wealthy enough” to buy a big stake in Manchester United football club. 

Scottish Enterprise said its priority was to “maximise future employment” opportunities for workers at Grangemouth. Ineos was contacted for comment.

The Scottish Government are being taken for fools giving handouts to Jim Ratcliffe whilst his company threatens to cut and run from workers at Grangemouth.

Rosie Hampton, Friends of the Earth Scotland

Scottish Enterprise’s payment to Ineos Chemicals Grangemouth Ltd in March was the second instalment of a grant worth £500,000 agreed in October 2022. The first instalment, worth £62,243, was paid in July 2023.

The grant was made towards a £1m Ineos project to assess whether the other petrochemical facilities it owns at the wider Grangemouth complex could be fueled by hydrogen in the future. 

A freedom of information request by The Ferret also revealed that Ineos received Scottish Enterprise grants in 2021 and 2022 to investigate the potential for a biorefinery at Grangemouth.

In total the firm has received over £700,000 in grants from Scottish Enterprise since the start of 2021.

Petroineos Manufacturing Scotland Ltd, the owner of Grangemouth, posted pre-tax yearly profits of £107m in 2022.

Ineos chairman and majority owner Ratcliffe bought a 25 per cent stake in Manchester United in December for a reported £1.3bn. As part of the deal, Ineos is now in charge of football operations at the club.

Rosie Hampton, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said “scarce public resources” should be going towards “job guarantees” for “high carbon workers” like those at Grangemouth. 

“The Scottish Government are being taken for fools giving handouts to Jim Ratcliffe whilst his company threatens to cut and run from workers at Grangemouth,” Hampton told The Ferret. 

She added that Scottish ministers should be “forcing Ineos to meaningfully engage with workers and the local community about what they need from the transition away from fossil fuels”. 

ineos grangemouth
A flock of migrating geese fly over the Grangemouth refinery in winter. Image: FrankCornfield/iStock

Unite, the trade union which represents employees of the Grangemouth refinery, said it believed public funds “should be used to support jobs based in Scotland where there is also a commitment by companies to retain and support jobs”. 

A spokesperson said: “Unite’s sole objective is to retain the oil refinery’s operations for as long as possible and with it 500 highly-skilled jobs. We will ensure that everyone is held to account for any inaction and failure to protect jobs.”

The Alba Party MP, Kenny McAskill – who has been campaigning to keep the refinery open – said hydrogen and biofuels should be pursued at Grangemouth and grants are “rightly paid to support transition and investment”. 

“But those technologies are for years to come and closure is proposed for next year,” he added. 

“When funds can be found for Ineos to invest in Belgium and battery manufacturers are bunged billions to invest in England, it is time that revenue from Scottish oil was used to support Scotland’s refinery.”

A Scottish Enterprise spokesperson said: “We are working with Petroineos as well as local and national stakeholders on the Grangemouth facility’s future. 

“Our priority is exploring all options for the site, beyond traditional refinery operations, to maximise future employment. 

“Part of this exploration includes a £1 million Ineos project to appraise technology options to facilitate fuel switching to hydrogen. We approved £500,000 as a contribution towards this project in 2022, with the project and grant payment completing last month.”

Petroineos has blamed market pressures and the need to transition away from fossil fuels for its decision to close the refinery at Grangemouth. The oil refinery produced the second most climate pollution of any site in Scotland in 2022, behind only SSE’s gas power plant at Peterhead. 

Head of external affairs at Petroineos, Iain Hardie, told Holyrood’s economy committee in December that Grangemouth was “one of the oldest” refineries in Europe and “highly inefficient”. He said the refinery had incurred losses of around £800m in the last decade and added that a transition plan for Grangemouth was expected to be published in 2024.

This story was published in partnership with the Sunday Post. Our partnerships with other media help us reach new audiences and become more sustainable as a media co-op.  Join us to read all our stories and tell us what we should investigate next.

Main image: iStock/Dave Collins

1 comment
  1. Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise should have been incinerated on quango bonfire decades ago – as in rest of UK. If staff on these corrupt, incestuous agencies knew anything about business, why aren’t they running their own successful companies?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hi! To read more you need to login.
Not a member yet? Join our co-operative now to get unlimited access.
You can join using Direct Debit, payment card or Paypal. Cancel at any time. If you are on a low-income you may be eligible for a free sponsored membership. Having trouble logging in? Try here.
Hi! To read more you need to login.
Not a member yet?
Hi! You can login using the form below.
Not registered yet?
Having trouble logging in? Try here.
Back our next investigation
Can you help us find out who really runs Scotland?