"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

North Sea Oil / Gas supplies threatened by INEOS Grangemouth refinery strike

Jim Ratcliffe - Who he ?

Described as the chemical industry’s “answer to Lakshmi Mittal (qv)”, the low-profile Southampton based Ratcliffe (Sunday Times 10th richest Briton?) is on track with his ambition to create a world-beating chemicals company.

His Ineos Group, which employs 15,500 people in 14 countries, beat private equity rivals in its £5 billion acquisition of BP’s Innovene division in 2005 and now plans to construct a £125m plant in China by the end of 2009. Ineos, based in the New Forest, has become the world’s third-largest chemicals company and the largest producer of chemicals such as acetone, phenol and car air-conditioning fluids. Ratcliffe, 54, spent 15 years at Esso Petroleum and Courtaulds before joining venture capital firm Advent International.

In 1992 he left Advent and led the management buyout of an earlier offshoot of BP, its speciality chemicals division, which became Inspec. It floated in 1994 and four years later was taken over for £611m by Laporte. Armed with his £28m windfall, Ratcliffe headed a buyout team that acquired Ineos from Inspec in a £90.5m deal in 1998. A series of bold takeovers followed and he bought chunks of ICI, Dow and Degussa. The combined Ineos and Innovene operation made more than £414m profit on £15.2 billion sales in 2005. The net assets of the combined group stand at about £6.5 billion.

He has a £100m stake in the separate Ineos Chlor operation.

He also owns the Grangemeouth refinery where a strike is threatened over pension arrangements. BP has confirmed (CNN yesterday) that the Forties pipeline system may have to close if the Grangemouth strike goes ahead. 700,000 bpd UK North Sea production may be lost.

In addition to lost oil production, many gas fields may also have to be shut down as liquids produced with the gas will have no export route.

Ineos have said it could take up to one month to get the refinery back to full production if it is completely shut-down, sparking some panic buying of petrol in parts of Scotland.Global crude supply fears ysterday saw oil contracts trade to a fresh record high of US$119.74 in New York. Brent crude contracts in London hit an all time high of US$116.33.

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