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Ineos says 'milestones reached' at Grangemouth refinery

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image captionThe moves at Grangemouth are part of a "survival plan" announced by the company following a bitter industrial dispute

The owners of the giant Grangemouth refinery have said new "milestones" have been reached in moves to import shale gas from the United States.

Ineos said it had chosen German firm TGE as the preferred bidder to build a huge ethane tank at the site by 2016.

Ineos also announced two ageing plants at Grangemouth would close immediately, but added there would be no job losses.

The changes are part of a £300m "survival plan" launched by the company last year.

Ineos threatened to close the petrochemical site at Grangemouth in October after a dispute with the Unite union.

But it decided to keep the site open after workers accepted changes to pay, pensions and terms and conditions.

Ineos said an ethane gas terminal was essential as it looked to replace existing North Sea feedstocks that were running out.

'Biggest in Europe'

Harry Deans, a senior executive at Ineos, said the new ethane tank would be the biggest in Europe.

He added: "It is a crucial part of our survival plan that will enable us to import shale gas from the USA.

"By 2016 Grangemouth will be a shale gas-based facility, essential for it to become a profitable business again."

Ineos had initially planned to close the facility's G4 ethylene cracker and BE3 butadiene plant in 2015, but in a statement the company said it was closing the plants with immediate effect.

Mr Deans said: "Both G4 and BE3 plants are no longer commercially viable.

"Both facilities date from the 1960s and their closure is another key part of our survival plan.

"We are pleased to be able to redeploy all affected staff into other roles across the Grangemouth site as we focus on the future."

About 1,300 people work across the Grangemouth sites.

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