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Company needs to halt gas imports

Ineos offers £2.5 billion sweetener for community fracking support

Ineos, the owner of the giant petrochemicals plant at Grangemouth, has unveiled a £2.5 billion package of sweeteners for local communities around the UK if they support its shale gas plans.

The company told a media conference that it needed to engage in fracking in the Grangemouth to offset a £400m bill for importing gas as North Sea supplies run out.

Presenting a ‘Shale gas information programme’ the company said it understood public concern but warned that it needed to extract lower cost gas to ensure the viability of the Grangemouth plant.

The development of unconventional gas extraction has been halted by a Scottish government moratorium. This has prompted the company to engage in a charm offensive to win over public opinion.

Tom Pickering, operations director for Ineos Upstream, told Daily Business that the company wanted to counter some of the myths around shale gas with some facts.

“We have a 15 year secure supply from the US but we have to think about the future and indigenous sources which are a large prize for us and for Scotland,” he said.

The financial package dangled in front of communities was for them to “share in the benefits” of the activity, he said. The company did not regard it as “compensation”.

“There is no obligation on us to do that, but we see it as important in taking people with us. It would be a direct payment through the door of home owners.”

He said there would be “a lot of meetings in town halls” and with ministers, though no formal government talks were yet planned.

Friends of the Earth Scotland, which has accused Ineos of ‘love-bombing’ Scotland into backing fracking, said the community should not allow itself to fall for the company’s spin.

Mary Church, Head of Campaigns for FoE Scotland, said: “Fracking is a dangerous, dirty industry and all the money in the world can’t hide that. No amount of slick roadshows are going to allay the concerns of communities who have heard about the reality of the impacts of this industry in the USA and Australia. No amount of PR spin can hide the climate change impact of exploiting shale gas.

“Scottish communities have been fighting the unconventional gas industry for years, and are already very well informed. It’s no surprise that Ineos are resorting to spin-doctors and glossy videos to try and lovebomb Scottish communities into stop worrying and learn to love fracking. Sadly Ineos have the budget for a long and dirty fight, while community and campaign groups can only fight their corner on a shoestring.”

Commenting on today’s offer, she added:  “Ineos’s pie-in-the-sky claims of huge sums of money for communities will never be delivered. Using the questionable economics of the USA industry to woo communities when we know UK costs will be much higher is simply indefensible. The company is on record saying that if they frack and don’t get enough gas, then communities won’t get a penny.

“The figures the company is using are also based on highly uncertain and exaggerated estimates of how much gas it might be possible to extract from UK shale beds.”

FoE claims that in the “unlikely event” that Ineos’s fracking operation makes any profits a “tiny fraction” will go to making a few landowners better off.

More to follow..

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