Unite says BP’s Forties sale is ‘bad for Scotland and UK’

UK’s largest union Unite on Monday called for the Scottish and Westminster parliaments to carry out urgent inquiries following the sale of the Forties Pipeline System from BP to Ineos. 

Unite opposed the move in March while the two companies were still in talks for the potential sale.

Earlier on Monday BP informed it had agreed to sell the main Forties offshore and onshore pipelines and other associated pipeline interests and facilities to Ineos for $250 million.

The FPS carries liquids production from some 85 fields in the Central and Northern North Sea and several Norwegian fields on behalf of around 40 companies. BP sold its interests in the Forties field to Apache in 2003 and sold the Grangemouth refinery and chemical plants to Ineos in 2005.

BP employs around 300 staff to operate and support the Forties Pipeline System. The oil company said on Monday that those staff who operate and support the various elements of the business were expected to transfer with the business. However, Unite emphasized it has serious concerns about the safety of their jobs, pensions, terms and conditions under Ineos.

Namely, the union was involved in two major disputes with Ineos over the treatment of workers at the Grangemouth refinery in 2008 and 2013. During the second dispute, the company – owned by billionaire tax-avoider Jim Ratcliffe – threatened to close the facility forever, the union said.

According to the union, the Forties Pipeline System is one of the most important strategic pieces of infrastructure in the North Sea. The pipeline has a capacity of 575,000 barrels of oil a day and delivers almost 40% of the UK’s North Sea oil and gas.

“Unite firmly believes that this sale is bad for Scotland and the UK.”

Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: “It’s not so long ago that both Grangemouth and the Forties pipeline were owned by all of us, and operated by a nationalized British Petroleum with a responsibility to look at what was good for the country as a whole, not just what was good for a small group of wealthy individuals.

“Both these parts of vital national infrastructure – which are central to the success of the Scottish and wider UK economy are now essentially in the hands of one man.

“Unite firmly believes that this sale is bad for Scotland and the UK. We demand that both the Scottish and Westminster parliament carry out inquiries, and that every MSP and MP in Scotland has a responsibility to make their position clear. Do they believe this sale is in the national interest?”

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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