A trade union has warned that BP’s proposed sale of the Forties pipeline to Ineos would give one man the power to “bring the entire country to a standstill”.
Unite said it would be dangerous to give billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s company control of the pipeline when it already owned the Grangemouth refinery.
Both companies confirmed yesterday that talks were taking place over the sale of Forties, which transports 450,000 barrels a day, comprising about 40% of the UK’s total oil production.
Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: “The Forties Pipeline System carries a massive amount of the UK’s oil. Grangemouth is the one of the country’s major refineries.
“Both of these pieces of vital national infrastructure could soon be effectively in the hands of one man. That is an incredible amount of power.
“We need a national debate now. Do our politicians believe in an economy where power is widely held and used for the benefit of us all, or are they happy with power in the hands of a tiny minority whose biggest concern is their own personal benefit?
“Is it right, or sensible, to give the power to turn off the taps – and bring the entire country to a standstill – to one private company, without any democratic involvement or oversight?”
Mr Rafferty also said he had serious concerns over the welfare of employees who may have to transfer over to Ineos.
Unite said it was embroiled in two major disputes with Ineos over the treatment of workers at Grangemouth in 2008 and 2013.
During the second dispute, Ineos threatened to close the facility.
Mr Rafferty said: “Our members at BP will have major concerns about the possibility of becoming employees of Ineos, a company with a clear history of attacking our members’ pensions, as well as their terms and conditions, in order to maximise profit.
“If a sale does go ahead, we will fight to protect our members in every way we can, and Ineos should work with us to allay their fears.”
Ineos has been contacted for comment.