Strike vote leads to fears of North Sea oil disruption

LONDON Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:06pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Workers at the 210,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) oil refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland voted on Friday in favour of strike action, raising fears of disruption to North Sea oil supplies that would drive up the benchmark oil price.

Steam from the Grangemouth refinery, owned by PetroIneos, powers the adjoining Kinneil terminal, which receives oil from a pipeline that carries North Sea Forties, one of the four crudes that underpins the Brent oil benchmark.

A strike at the refinery in 2008 led to concerns about oil supplies and queues at petrol stations around Scotland as well as pushing gasoil futures to a record high.

Brent oil rose following the news on Friday, reversing direction from a fall earlier in the day.

Over 80 percent of the workers balloted voted in favour of strike action over operator Ineos's treatment of a union organiser and worker, Stephen Deans, who is at the centre of a disciplinary action, the union said on Friday.

Ineos is investigating Deans over whether his political activities with the Labour Party contravened company policies, and accuses the union of interfering with its inquiry.

The union is required by law to give seven days notice of any industrial action, a union official said.

The Forties pipeline was expected to load about 329,000 bpd in October.

A spokeswoman for BP, which operates Kinneil, confirmed that it relies on steam from Grangemouth but said she could not comment on the impact of a possible strike.

(Reporting by Simon Falush; Addiitonal reporting by Claire Milhench and Ron Bousso; editing by Jane Baird)

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