THE company behind the Grangemouth petrochemical plant refused to pay for anti-terrorism security measures after claiming the costs were too high, according to Government files.

INEOS, owned by billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, snubbed the UK Government after a wing of the Security Service, MI5, recommended up to £6 million of improvements.

Grangemouth is home to a sprawling refinery and petrochemical site and is a key strategic location for oil and gas production through the Forties Pipeline System (FPS), which INEOS bought recently from BP.

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The pipeline is believed to transport around 450,000 barrels of oil per day on average - about 40 per cent of UK production.

A joint investigation by the Sunday Herald and Greenpeace’s Energydesk news website has raised crucial questions about the company’s commitment to funding national security measures.

According to UK Government briefing documents from 2010 and 2011, the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) – a branch of MI5 – made recommendations for anti-terrorism measures relating to the site.

However, despite the terrorism threat at oil and gas sites being assessed as “moderate”, the files from the then Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) stated: “INEOS have, however, declined to take up these recommendations (costing between £4 & £6 Million) because they do not see themselves as the direct beneficiary, cannot afford these measures and are restricted on non-regulated expenditure as part of their debt agreement.”

Grangemouth was listed as a “critical national infrastructure” site (CNI), but the documents made clear the company was not playing ball: “This is the first and only example to date of a CNI owner/operator deciding not to act upon CPNI’s recommendations.”

The briefing showed that INEOS believed the taxpayer, not the company, should pay for new anti-terror measures at the location: “You should be aware, however, that [INEOS staffer] has made his position clear, in that if we (HMG & Scottish Government) consider there is a need to implement protective security measures (fences, CCTV and alarms) to mitigate the risk of a terrorist attack, then HMG and Scottish Government should pay. [INEOS staffer] has made it clear that he does not have the budget and we do not believe he will appreciate being pushed hard on this point.”

The document continued: “Major refining companies within the downstream oil sector have to date acted upon CPNI advice and have undertaken investments to improve physical security at their sites.

“There is therefore a cluster of CNI sites at Grangemouth, with complex interdependencies, which means that the critical operations of these sites are vulnerable by virtue of the security vulnerabilities of one. Specifically, lack of action to improve security by Ineos could expose BP’s FPS to greater vulnerability.”

Government officials also considered forcing the company to pay for the work: “We have explored with Legal whether the Secretary of State could direct Ineos to fund this work. We have not identified any mechanism for doing so.”

Funding the security enhancements with public money, according to the documents, could prove to be unpopular.

“Not only would this potentially antagonise those private sector operators who have already funded such enhancements, it could also discourage operators at those sites which have yet to fund their own security mitigations, sending them a signal that if they refuse HM Government could provide funding.”

By 2015, INEOS had a global turnover of around $35 billion and the company was recently revealed to have three billionaires working for it.

The pro-fracking company has also been awarded £16m by Scottish Enterprise over the an eight-year period, which was the equivalent of around £180,000 a month.

John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, said: “Such apparent disregard for national security from a major petrochemical company is deeply alarming. According to the documents, Ineos’s approach was unprecedented. Such behaviour suggests that this company was not prioritising the health and security of our communities.

“This is a company that owns licenses to frack for gas across the UK and, just a few days ago, was condemned for its poor environmental performance at its Grangemouth refinery, for the second year in a row.”

Howard Beckett, an assistant general secretary of Unite, which represents workers at Grangemouth, said: “Unite is not aware of any major work to improve security at Ineos in Grangemouth since 2011, and we believe there are ongoing problems around the upkeep of gates and fencing around the plants.

“It would be shocking if Ineos refused government requests to spend money on safeguarding such a vital part of our national infrastructure. Unite will be writing to Ineos to seek explanations but also to confirm we do not seek conflict and remain willing to work with them to manage all safety and security issues on site.”

Asked whether INEOS paid for the security enhancements in the end, and whether the measures were implemented, a spokesman for INEOS Grangemouth said: “We cannot go into detail on our security arrangements at our sites, some of which is confidential, for obvious reasons.

“However, I can say that the safety and security of each of our sites around the world is our highest priority. Our sites vary considerably in terms of their size, composition and location and so the security arrangements, that are reviewed on a regular basis, are specifically developed to take into account the specific risk and situation of each facility.”

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which succeeded DECC, said: “We work collaboratively with industry and government agencies to ensure effective security measures are in place for the energy sector.”