Archive: 50 years since Total Lindsey Oil Refinery was officially opened

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 2 Jul 2018

All eyes were to the skies in northern Lincolnshire this weekend as Armed Forces Day saw a phenomenal celebration of 100 years of the Royal Air Force, thanks to the Red Arrows.

But it also marked 50 years since the official opening of a refinery that helps keep aviation moving, a well as road fuel available across the UK. 

On Friday, June 28, 1968, Minister of Power Ray Gunter, pictured below, officially opened Lindsey Oil Refinery, a £30 million investment in an "increasingly dynamic corner of Lincolnshire". 

It represented the recognition of a new major industry building on the Humber, with the petro-chemical sector adding to the respective strengths of seafood and steel, with Grimsby and Scunthorpe the two key towns supplying the large workforce. 

Arriving by plane from Stansted, as officials also flew into RAF Binbrook from Paris (a rail dispute had scuppered train plans) the joint venture from Petrofina and Total saw 500 guests attend, from global oil barons to international press, government figures to parish council chairmen.

 It was a time when refineries were opening like wind farms are now, three coming on stream alone in 1968, with Conoco (now Phillips 66) following quickly behind its neighbour.

Mr Gunter, in his speech, acknowledged the rapid growth of the industry since the Second World War, something characterised by close co-operation between the industry and the Government.

He said: "We worked closely together over the fuel policy. I know the industry is as anxious to pare costs as we are. This is the challenge of the future. Cheapness is the cornerstone of our industrial strength - that is why I am delighted to open this new refinery."

In an irony of where we are now, he continued: "There is a 'first' to celebrate -  the Lindsey refinery is the first established in the UK by European companies.

"We are, of course, determined to be full members of the Common Market if the necessary conditions can be met. There is no weakening in our resolve on this point. 

"To me, the interesting point here is the evidence this major development gives of the inevitable need for the closest co-operation between Britain and her continental neighbours.

"In the cold light of financial and economic analysis, both your companies, one based in Belgium, the other France, decided that whether there as going to be a big Common Market or not, or at least not yet, you would establish a little common market. I really do not have to say how eminently sensible your decision was."

Lindsey's addition to the UK portfolio allowed it to switch from importer to modest exporter of refined products, and gave credit to the oil industry that "immense problems posed by the Arab-Israeli war, and the continued closure of the Suez Canal, have been largely overcome", adding, that at its height 40 per cent of supplies were affected, underlining the need for "greater diversification". 

"Security of supply therefore will be no less vital in future, and the Government will expect the continual co-operation of the oil industry in dealing with this problem," he added.

"A new refinery capacity is well spread around our coast. Humberside is itself rapidly becoming a major centre for the industry, offering the possibility of distribution to the Midlands and the Yorkshire area on very economic terms. And it is absolutely essential for our economic wellbeing that industry and the commercial and domestic customer should get its primary energy supplies at the lowest possible cost.

"As an advanced industrial society we depend far more than many people would imagine on the availability of competitively prices fuels. To be successful internationally and domestically we must be certain that we are getting it at the lowest possible cost."

Mr Gunter opened the first phase with a three-million tonne capacity, with the refinery already having handled 750,000 tonnes. It was to double in a second phase, but, recently, returned to single stream. 

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