British Prime Minister David Cameron wants the Swiss owners of the Grangemouth chemicals and refinery plant in Scotland to continue talks with trade unions to try to resolve a dispute over pensions and conditions, his spokesman said on Wednesday.
He was speaking after Ineos, the Swiss owners, said they had decided to close the plant's petrochemicals unit, but to keep open the oil refinery it part owns, provided the threat of strike action was removed.
"This is a disappointing outcome," the spokesman said of the petrochemicals closure. "Even at this stage we would continue to urge both parties who have been involved in a dispute over this to continue to try and find a way of continuing their dialogue."
The government stood ready to help get talks underway, he added. The 210,000-barrels-per-day refinery supplies most of Scotland's fuel. PetroChina owns half of the refinery, which Ineos operates. Ineos owns 100 percent of the petrochemical plant.
Asked if the government had contingency plans to cope if the company decided to close the refinery as well, the spokesman said: "Fuel supplies continue to be delivered as normal. The government has contingency plans for a range of scenarios, as you'd expect."
Britain's Energy Minister Ed Davey said separately that the dispute posed no threat to fuel supplies