It's a sad state of affairs up at Grangemouth. This is one of the most significant refinery and chemical production centres in the Uk. The most important in Scotland by a long way. In the world today, refining has become a difficult business as the margins have been squeezed.
Why so squeezed, well a glut of new infrastructure has been built and at the same time world oil production has levelled off. Gas from fracking has increased, but LNG is a vastly different infrastructure. As well as over-capacity, since 2008, finance for commodity transactions has been withdrawn by banks. When a site like grange mouth, which needs about $10 billion a year of oil to refine, struggles to get credible finance then the business is in trouble. Ineos the owner, is a Chinese company and this was hoped to be the solution to the problem. But with margins tight they are trying to get the workforce to accept lower pensions and pay freezes. Unite Union are dad against and the Scottish Government, full of Unite reps, has decided to try to find a new owner.
This all rather sadly reminds me of Petroplus and its Coryton refinery. There the banks withdrew the credit line and the company collapsed, no new buyer was found and the refinery has closed. Now at Grangemouth the same story is playing out. It's hard to blame workers for refusing harsher terms, but equally what at the Unions doing thinking another purchaser will be on the horizon.
If Chinese investors can't find the money then no one else will be able too. It's a terrible waste, look at ND's post on Teeside below and you can see how much valuable heavy infrastructure is being wasted by very poor macro-economic management in the UK.