Alex Salmond has blamed political “hostility” towards the energy industry for the closure of the country’s only oil refinery.

Petroineos, which owns the plant in Grangemouth, announced on Wednesday that operations will cease in 2025, with the site becoming a fuel import terminal instead.

Mr Salmond was first minister in 2013, when the refinery last looked set to close, following a bitter row between owner Jim Ratcliffe and the trade unions.

The ex-SNP leader criticised the “lack of urgency” from the Scottish Government and Scotland’s politicians.

READ MORE: Grangemouth: Jobs at risk as Sir Jim Ratcliffe-backed refinery to shut

“There is a cost to the hostility of Labour, SNP and the Greens to any hydrocarbon production in the North Sea and one price is the closure of Scotland’s most significant industrial plant and the loss of thousands of highly paid jobs directly and through the supply chain,” the Alba leader said.

“Instead of refining our own hydrocarbon product range with all the environmental benefits of proximity, Scotland will soon import them from around the planet, with a far greater carbon impact.

“In addition the plans for a carbon capture and hydrogen hub at Grangemouth must now be at serious risk.”

The ex-SNP leader pointed out that none of the three SNP MPs called at Prime Minister’s Questions “saw fit to raise the issue of the closure of Grangemouth refinery.”

The Herald:

He said the Scottish Government looked “asleep at the wheel.”

“They need to act now with urgency to secure Scotland’s industrial and energy base,” he added.

Humza Yousaf said the Scottish Government believed the job losses could “be quite significant.”

He said ministers were “very prepared to work with the owners of Grangemouth and, of course, with the trade unions in order to try to ensure a sustainable future for Grangemouth.”

“This will be a very worrying time for the workers that are impacted by this,” he added.

Asked if his Government bears some responsibility for the situation, he said oil and gas licensing decisions are made by the UK Government, but stressed the importance of a “just transition” and “taking the workers with us on the journey towards a sustainable future”.

READ MORE: How Sir Jim Ratcliffe's Grangemouth plant became a manufacturing icon

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said the development was a “big worry” for the workforce, but, speaking to the media after the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, he said the part of the site involved was part of the Forth Ports freeport zone and “will become fuel storage”.

He said: “We’ve been in touch with the company.

“I would like to know what percentage of the jobs in the whole Grangemouth site this is and what percentage of the jobs affected can be repurposed for the new proposals, for the fuel storage system. We need to get down to the detail on this. It’s a big worry.

“Approximately 500 people’s jobs are at risk. How many of those could be repurposed? “What’s the company’s proposal for that? And when and how quickly can they give reassurance to those families who are concerned about their breadwinner?”

The announcement was attacked by the unions.

Derek Thomson, the Scottish secretary at Unite, saying: “Every option must be on the table in order to secure the hundreds of highly-skilled jobs based at the Grangemouth complex for the long-term.”

The GMB said the announcement should act as a “huge wake-up call” to politicians across the UK.

General Secretary Gary Smith said: “This is a deeply worrying time for the future of the workers and communities dependent on Grangemouth.

“Time and again, GMB has said the UK needs a plan and not bans for better energy independence and prosperity.

“Today’s announcement should be a huge wake-up call to policymakers across the political spectrum.”

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The plant almost closed in 2013, when owners Ineos said they would cease operations unless workers accepted a rescue plan that would involve cuts to pay and conditions.

The dispute followed the suspension of Unite shop steward at the time, Stephen Deans, who was accused of conducting Labour Party business during work time.

It was claimed he signed up dozens of new members for Labour, promising them that Unite would pay their membership fees on the understanding that they would back the union's choice in the contest to select a new candidate to stand for parliament in Falkirk, to replace the disgraced Eric Joyce.

Though he was suspended from the Labour Party, he was later cleared by an investigation and reinstated.

However, Ineos carried out its own investigation into allegations that some of the new Labour members had been signed up in the refinery.

The row over his treatment erupted into a vote for strike action, which led to Ineos temporarily shutting down the facility, before later announcing the permanent closure. 

The company eventually reversed that decision after workers accepted a pay freeze and a "no strike" agreement for three years. 

The fall-out from the industrial dispute cost the Scottish economy an estimated £65m.