Fracking move

Ineos offers to build shale gas test site to prove safety

Forth Bridge first shale gas
Ineos has been importing shale-produced ethane from the US

INEOS, the chemicals and energy company, has offered to develop a fully functioning shale test site to demonstrate that the technology can operate safely.

The company has approached the UK government amid increasing concerns over the mounting costs of energy and security of supplies.

It says shale gas production has operated elsewhere, notably in the US, for years and has helped transform energy costs and security.

Ineos founder and chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe says the UK has missed out on the benefits, including thousands of jobs, that shale gas can provide.

He said: “The UK is in the midst of an energy crisis with ever increasing prices driving people into fuel poverty whilst giving huge sums of money to oppressive regimes.

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“It’s a ridiculous situation with so much gas under our feet and we are today offering to drill a shale test site to show that a competent operator can be trusted to develop the technology safely.”   

Sir Jim’s intervention comes as the UK is in the middle of an energy crisis with gas prices almost ten times the level of the US. These higher gas prices are driving higher electricity prices and pushing more and more of the British population into fuel poverty.

At the same time, the UK government is having a major rethink about energy policy with growing concerns about the security and cost of oil and gas from Russia and the Middle East.

Ineos said it is proud to be part of the growing renewables revolution with many of its products providing key building blocks for the production of solar and wind energy as well as leading in the development of hydrogen as a fuel of the future.

But it states that renewable technology is not yet reliable enough to take over and the UK will need gas for the next 30 years as it goes through the energy transition.

Sir Jim adds: “The UK is right to be re-examining its energy policy and to look again at the North Sea as part of the answer to our energy needs.

“But, as the US has shown, shale gas from home could make us self-sufficient in ten years and we need to re-examine this too”.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe: ‘ridiculous situation’

In 2015 Ineos signed a deal with Exxon Mobil and Shell to import ethane from US shale gas production for its Grangemouth facility.

Ineos says fracking has been safely used in the oil and gas industry for more than 50 years and in the US over one million wells “have been safely used and have transformed the energy security of the country”.

Opponents of fracking highlight earth tremors and contamination of water supplies, and the battle over the process has been challenged in the courts.

Ineos says that the science behind shale has been “totally ignored” in the UK and accuses politicians bowing to an “extreme vocal minority”, before imposing a moratorium on fracking.

“Had that moratorium not happened, we could be using shale gas today,” says the company.

Ineos said it understands that some people still worry about fracking which is why it has written to the UK government offering to develop a fully functioning shale test site to show that the technology can be developed safely by a competent operator.

Sir Jim adds, “We will happily invite government inspectors to monitor what we do and if, at any stage, the science shows there are problems we will stop and make good the site.

“But if, as we believe, the opposite is true, we would ask that the government looks again at shale gas which would allow the UK to benefit from its own resources, massively reduce the cost of energy and ensure our long-term energy independence”.

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