Ineos to launch pro-fracking drive in Scotland

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THE petrochemical giant Ineos is to launch a pro-fracking PR ­offensive underlining the billions of pounds that could be injected into central Scotland’s economy by the controversial drilling technique.

Ineos’s pledge to give about £2.5 billion to the local economy will be at the heart of a huge shale gas information programme that will begin next month.

Anti-fracking protesters demonstrate outside Grangemouth in December last year. Picture: Michael Gillen

Anti-fracking protesters demonstrate outside Grangemouth in December last year. Picture: Michael Gillen

The windfall promised by Ineos could see homeowners and landowners receive many thousands of pounds over the next 15 years or so if fracking takes place beneath their land.

Ineos said its campaign would be taken to village halls across the shale gas belt, where there is concern about the impact the industry would have on communities. It will take in 15 towns, including Denny, Alloa, Falkirk, Kilsyth, Bishopbriggs and ­Cumbernauld.

Announcing its plans at the Grangemouth petrolchemical plant, Ineos executives said they would be open and transparent when explaining the benefits of sinking wells in the Forth Valley and when addressing safety concerns.

Ineos director Tom Crotty said: “This is about trust and openness and getting the public on-side is by a process that will involve us drinking a lot of tea in a lot of village halls and talking to people face-to-face and explaining these facts.

“This ... is a process that will involve us drinking a lot of tea in a lot of village halls and talking to people face-to-face and explaining these facts and at the end of this we would hope people would be able to weigh up the potential risks against the enormous economic benefits, which would be transformational”

Tom Crotty

“At the end of this we would hope people would be able to weigh up the potential risks against the enormous economic benefits, which would be transformational.”

The Scottish Government has put a moratorium on fracking until the evidence for and against it is considered. Included in Ineos’s arguments will be the company’s promise to pay 6 per cent of revenues from its shale gas wells to those affected by the operation.

The figure is expected to amount to £2.5bn over the lifetime of the fields and 4 per cent will go directly to homeowners and landowners, while the remaining 2 per cent will go to communities nearby.

A typical shale gas community is defined as 39 square miles around a cluster of approximately 200 wells, which could receive £375 million over 15 to 30 years.

Ineos has bought licences for shale gas exploration across 700 square miles of land in central Scotland but the government moratorium means there is uncertainty around the future of the industry.

Mr Crotty warned that the future of the Grangemouth plant could be in doubt in about 15 years time, if permission was not granted for fracking.

A new facility to process imported shale gas from the US is expected to become operational shortly at Grangemouth.

Mr Crotty said: “We have got contracts that will last for 15 plus years we have an absolute guarantee of the performance of this site.

“Beyond that period is an unknown, we don’t know what would happen.

“We are going to have the best import facilities in the world and it could be that we are bringing gas in from Australia, wherever. Who knows?

“But we don’t know and the only way to be sure of the future in our opinion is for Scotland to have its own gas. Then you have got a guarantee that goes on into the future.”

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