£150m invested in new plant in Hull by Ineos 'is sign of confidence' despite Brexit uncertainty

The company making a £1bn investment in British manufacturing - including £150m in Yorkshire - says it underlines its confidence in its future in the UK.

Graham Beesley, CEO Ineos Oxide
Graham Beesley, CEO Ineos Oxide

A series of investments were announced by petrochemicals company Ineos, whose founder is former Beverley Grammar School pupil Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s wealthiest man and a supporter of Brexit, the biggest being a £500m overhaul of the Forties Pipeline System in the North Sea, which carries 30 per cent of the UK's oil.

Another £150m is being invested in a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant at the Saltend chemicals site doubling its workforce there to 80, while £350m is being spent in Grangemouth on a new energy plant.

Across the country a total of 140 jobs will be created, another 1,000 secured and hundreds more during construction and in the supply chain.

Speaking in Hull, chief executive of Ineos Oxide Graham Beesley said Ineos was "getting on with it" despite the lack of clarity around Brexit.

Asked about Brexit he said they were "hoping for the best and planning for the worst."

He added: "I think there's this uncertainty around Brexit and a business has to choose to wait until all the uncertainty is out of the way or it can get on with it.

"Ineos as a company has a reputation for putting its foot forward and getting on with the job.

"This announcement will double the number of high-skilled jobs (in Hull) and in my opinion it is a real endorsement of the people working here in terms of their talent, tenacity and capability.

"It's very good for Ineos and the people working here and for the region."

Sir Jim, who was knighted in last year's Queen's birthday honours, said earlier that the £1bn investment "underlines our confidence in the UK", adding: "These investments will ensure that our UK assets continue to be world class for many years to come."

The Hull plant will manufacture 300,000 tonnes of vinyl acetate monomer, a chemical compound which is a key component in industrial and consumer products ranging from laminated windscreens to toughened glass, adhesives and coatings.

Europe is a large net importer of VAM, importing around 600,000 tonnes a year from countries including in the Middle East and Asia.

Around a third of the output from the plant, which is expected to go into full production in 2023, is expected to be sold in the UK and two-thirds overseas.

Hull, where Ineos already manufactures ethyl acetate, gets ethylene down a pipeline from its petrochemicals plant at Grangemouth, with its other key raw material, acetic acid available from the BP plant on the Saltend chemicals site.

Humber Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Lord Haskins said the Saltend site had "risen from the dead" since being sold by BP.

"BP gave up on it and there's now a fantastic amount of activity there. If we can get through Brexit Hull is set for a very bright future."