Newspaper article International New York Times

On the Shores of the River Firth, the Historical Cradle of Scotland's Refining Prowess

Newspaper article International New York Times

On the Shores of the River Firth, the Historical Cradle of Scotland's Refining Prowess

Article excerpt

Long before oil was discovered in the North Sea, industrial pioneers figured out how to extract mineral oil from the coal and shale deposits near Grangemouth.

Grangemouth's place in the chemical and oil industries goes back more than a century.

Long before oil was discovered in the North Sea in the mid-20th century, industrial pioneers led by a chemist named James "Paraffin" Young figured out how to extract mineral oil from the rich coal and shale deposits in this part of Scotland. The network of small refineries that sprang up in the area shipped some of their output from the docks at Grangemouth on the Firth of Forth, an inlet that runs deep into central Scotland.

In 1919, BP, then known as Anglo-Persian Oil, acquired Scottish Oils, an amalgam that included Young's Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil, and drew on its skills to help build its refinery at Grangemouth in the early 1920s.

In the following decades BP built and expanded the adjacent petrochemical plant, which benefited from the development of North Sea oil in the 1970s. …

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