A petrochemical giant seems to be looking to get a head start on fracking despite a Scottish Government ban on the practice.
Grangemouth-based Ineos wants to drill four or five wells down into the earth in what it calls the “Midland Valley of Scotland” to take core samples so it can check for shale gas content.
However, the government’s temporary moratorium on “the granting of planning consents for all unconventional oil and gas developments, including fracking” put in place in January orders local authorities like Falkirk Council not to permit developments of this type to go ahead while health risks were investigated and a public consultation was held.
The investigation and consultation is now expected to extend beyond the Scottish election in May 2016, but Ineos reportedly want to start test drilling well before that.
Ineos Upstream operations director Tom Pickering said: “As we have explained in all our public meetings, we don’t yet know if the shale gas under the Midland Valley of Scotland can be produced economically.
“In order to determine this, we need to do seismic surveys - mapping the underground layers via sound waves - then drill a few wells and take core samples of the rock for laboratory analysis of the rock properties, including gas content.
“There will be two to three wells required per licence block, which in our licences in Scotland means four to five wells total. As there is currently a moratorium in place in Scotland these activities would not involve fracking and our plans for seismic surveys are fully consistent with the Scottish Government’s desire for ‘further research’.
“Ineos has not lodged any applications related to shale gas and there have been no test holes drilled by Ineos at Grangemouth or anywhere else. We have not yet determined where any test holes are going to be drilled.”