Petrochemical giant Ineos has made significant moves in Scotland and England to become one of the UK’s biggest players in the emerging shale gas industry.
The firm has just acquired 50 per cent stakes in seven IGas shale gas licences in north west England with the option to acquire a 20 per cent interest in two further IGas shale gas licences in the East Midlands.
And further deals mean Ineos now owns 100 per cent of the IGas licence for the area of land surrounding its Grangemouth petrochemical plant.
The deal with IGas is worth £30 million, with Ineos committing to invest £138 million to develop various shale gas fields in England with IGas.
Ineos Upstream CEO Gary Haywood said: “This is a further significant step for Ineos in its plan to become the biggest player in the UK shale gas industry. We believe shale gas could revolutionise UK manufacturing and Ineos has the resources to make it happen, the skills to extract the gas safely and the vision to realise that communities must share in the rewards for it to be successful.”
This latest move follows the Scottish Government’s moratorium on granting planning consents for hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”, the method by which shale gas is extracted, until a a full public consultation is carried out alongside further research into the technique to look at planning, environmental regulation and the impact on public health.
East Falkirk MP Michael Connarty said: “Ineos has nipped over the border to secure these licences. Their interests have always been in England because that’s where the big supplies of shale gas are.
“It’s also has a much looser system of control over the shale gas industry, making it easier for companies to buy up licences and get planning permission for their developments.
“When those safeguards were taken out of the Infrastructure Bill after it came back from the House of Lords it basically gave Ineos the green light to buy up these shale gas licences.”
Mary Church, Friends of the Earth Scotland head of campaigns, said: “This latest Ineos deal with IGas is hardly a surprise given the companies’ existing links. The industry’s game of musical chairs with fracking licenses will have little effect in Scotland where the unconventional gas industry is caught up in the recent moratorium.
“Ineos will be unable to exploit shale reserves near Grangemouth or anywhere else in Scotland any time soon and, despite the UK Government’s support for this risky industry, the company will face strong opposition from communities in Northern England.
“We are convinced a full, robust examination of the environmental and health impacts of the industry will lead to a complete ban on unconventional gas extraction.”