Business leaders have voiced their concerns over the future of Grangemouth oil refinery following news the site will stop operating in 2025 and become a fuel import terminal.

Entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter said: “Grangemouth is a joint venture between INEOS, which is owned by Jim Ratcliffe, the guy who’s buying into Manchester United football club, and PetroChina, and they’re going to close the oil refinery because it’s just not competitive anymore.

“It’s not going to close completely. It’s going to be a fuel, import and distribution business, but there are about 400 jobs now at risk.”

He asked his co-host of the Go Radio Business Show, Lord Willie Haughey: “Do you think the anti-hydrocarbon likes of Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvey and Co have put this notion in Jim Ratcliffe’s mind in their decision making?” 

Billionaire businessman Ratcliffe, who controls a 50 per cent stake in what is Scotland’s last remaining oil refinery through his chairmanship of INEOS, teamed up with the Chinese state-owned PetroChina organisation to handle the refining business.

Scotland’s Energy Secretary Neil Gray has said he will explore all opportunities to extend operations at Grangemouth beyond 2025 but has warned against “unrealistic expectations”.

He has vowed to work with colleagues in both the Scottish and the UK Government to look at the possibilities for extending the life of the refinery and maintaining industrial operations on the wider site.

Around 500 permanent staff currently work at Grangemouth, however the owners are said to have estimated only 100 would be needed to operate an import terminal.

Lord Haughey commented: “I hope, whatever any new development may look like, any new ideas on how they might want to run it means there will be many, many new jobs created. 

“I hope, too, that there’s a balance struck so that there are opportunities for the 400 people already there maybe to retrain and continue to work there.”