Grangemouth strike highlights chemical engineering importance

The industrial dispute at Scotland’s only oil refinery has highlighted the crucial role played by chemical engineers in maintaining the ‘day-to-day normality of life’ according to Andy Furlong, Director of Policy at the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE).

Furlong says that the often ‘unseen’ efforts of chemical engineers play a vital part in the UK economy and deserve greater recognition: "Chemical engineers can be found meeting challenges head-on, whether it’s supplying energy, clean water or healthcare products. It’s easy to take this fact for granted; until some kind of disruption occurs as the Grangemouth dispute demonstrates when suddenly, the absence of chemical engineering becomes headline news."

Around 1,200 staff at Scotland’s only oil refinery were on strike recently, closing BP’s key Forties oil pipeline, which provides 30% of the UK’s daily oil output from the North Sea.

Furlong’s comments come on the back of a MORI survey revealing two-thirds of British citizens had either ‘no idea’ or ‘only a vague idea’ of what chemical engineering means, and only 1 in 3 adults under 35-years-old consider it to be important to the UK economy.

"A better understanding of chemical engineering will encourage more investment and more young people to consider it as a university degree course and career. A better appreciation of the role played by chemical engineers will perhaps be one of the important lessons learned from this strike," said Furlong.

Source: IChemE

Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 6

Summer 2020 // Issue 53
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