THE importance of the oil refinery and petrochemical plant at Grangemouth to the Scottish economy cannot be under-estimated.

Ineos’s site contributes around four per cent of Scotland’s GDP and accounts for roughly eight per cent of the country’s manufacturing base.

The recent purchase by Ineos of the Forties Pipeline System in the North Sea from BP underscores how crucial the facility is.

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The pipeline transports an average of 450,000 barrels of oil a day and the 235-mile line links 85 North Sea oil and gas fields to the Ineos site.

However, there are obvious security risks to such sites, and governments around the world are mindful of terror threats to what is know as a critical national infrastructure (CNI) operator.

It is not just government buildings that must be protected from terrorism: a strike against an energy base could wreak huge economic damage, and mass casualties.

However, Government documents dating from 2010 and 2011 pose questions for INEOS on how seriously it takes its national security obligations.

Back then, the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure - a branch of MI5, the Security Service – recommended that a raft of security improvements be implemented in relation to the site.

It is understood the measures included perimeter fencing, CCTV and alarms – standard fare for huge sites.

According to the documents, Ineos did not agreed to pay for the necessary changes: “Ineos have, however, declined to take up these recommendations (costing between £4 million and £6m) because they do not see themselves as the direct beneficiary, cannot afford these measures and are restricted on non-regulated expenditure as part of their debt agreement.”

The briefing note added: “This is the first and only example to date of a CNI owner/operator deciding not to act upon CPNI’s recommendations.”

Ineos and the UK Government have declined to comment on whether the national security measures were observed, but it seems clear that by 2010/11 they were not.

Why is this important? Ineos is hugely profitable - just look at the fact that the company has three billionaires working for it.

The company has also benefited from over £16m in Scottish Enterprise grants, cash that ultimately comes from the taxpayer.

However, co-operation is a two-way street. Government has helped Ineos grow, but the quid pro quo must be that CPNI recommendations should be taken seriously, as should Ineos's duty to protect the public and its employees.

This tawdry episode reflects badly on a major Scottish employer and raises urgent questions about how Ineos responded to legitimate Government concerns.