Absent MSPs, protests and winds cannot spoil Ineos’ day

The shale ship makes its way up the Firth of Forth on Tuesday. Picture: Michael Gillen
The shale ship makes its way up the Firth of Forth on Tuesday. Picture: Michael Gillen

Tuesday was supposed to be the birth of the shale gas industry in Scotland but Ineos had to wait a little longer for its brave new era to begin.

High winds meant the Ineos Insight, carrying 27,500m3 of freshly fracked shale gas from the USA, was unable to safely enter the Grangemouth docks and had to beat a retreat back up the Firth of Forth and wait for better weather before attempting to enter the port.

The tanker was scheduled to arrive on Tuesday afternoon, but could only dock yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon due to high winds, delaying its arrival by a day.

Despite the delay Ineos founder Jim Ratcliffe proudly declared the mission a huge success.

Addressing guests, with invited MSPs noticeably absent, he said: “This is a hugely important day for Ineos and the UK. We are very excited about the kick-start shale gas can give to British manufacturing.”

The shale shipments for the ethane storage facility are just one part of the Ineos plan for a “renaissance” at the Grangemouth site, with the next stage seeing the creation of a chemical cluster of businesses at the location.

Ineos will work with Scottish Enterprise to create a new home for chemical and other types of manufacturers.

Adrian Gillespie, Scottish Enterprise managing director, was at the Ineos shale event on Tuesday.

He said: “This is a landmark day for Ineos as it welcomes its first shipment of shale gas to Grangemouth, and a great example of innovation and dynamism in the chemical sciences sector in Scotland.

“An important contributor to the Scottish economy, we’ve been working intensively with Ineos since 2013 when the company cemented its commitment to Scotland in a £450 million investment plan.

“This £150 million ethane project is a key part of that investment and we are pleased to be supporting it with a £9 million RSA grant, helping safeguard or create over 400 jobs.

“Scotland is already recognised for its chemical and bio-science manufacturing expertise and Grangemouth is home to the largest cluster of chemical companies in Scotland. This significant investment by Ineos is expected to strengthen Grangemouth’s position as a leading global chemical bio-sciences manufacturing hub.”

Not everyone welcomed the arrival of the shale shipment to our shores.

A hardy band of protesters braved wind and occasional showers to camp out in front of the new Ineos HQ in Grangemouth on Tuesday.

The aim was to get their message across to people that fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – is bad for the environment and communities wherever it takes place – whether it is in Grangemouth or Pennsylvania.

Trish Buchan, founder of Scotland Against Fracking, said: “The industry like to accuse the anti-fracking movement of being NIMBYs (Not in My Back Yard) but we are protesting against this to show our support for the communities in Pennsylvania. It would be hypocritical to protest against indigenous fracking and not to protest against these shipments.

“Now this shipment has arrived there is a shale industry in Scotland and it will probably make it easier to get the moratorium on fracking in Scotland lifted.

“That’s why it’s definitely time for us to up the pressure that we are applying. There is still so much apathy – we have to get the public to realise what is happening here.

“We don’t need this shale industry in Grangemouth.”