Petrochemical giants Ineos has challenged the Scottish Government to reconsider the timetable it has set on making a decision about whether unconventional gas extraction should be allowed.
Just days after Prime Minister Theresa May announced consultation on a Shale Wealth Fund that could be worth thousands of pounds to householders in England affected by ‘fracking’, a senior member of the company has asked why Scotland is still ‘dithering’ over the issue while our neighbours in the south look ready to benefit from a cash bonanza.
Holyrood imposed a moratorium on the controversial process in January last year and it will remain in place until the SNP Government has made its evidence-led decision, probably next summer.
But Gary Haywood, the chief executive officer of Ineos Shale, has asked if it really should take that long.
To keep competitive and the Grangemouth plant in business, Ineos have taken matters into their own hands.
Next month will see the first cargo of ethane sourced from shale gas arrive at Grangemouth from the United States.
The tanker will be the first of many, creating a virtual pipeline running from fields in the eastern United States to UK industry.
Mr Haywood said: “This shale gas-sourced ethane has provided a new lease of life to the Grangemouth site. The £1.5 billion total commitment made by Ineos to establish this supply will enable Grangemouth to deliver a sustainable profit and secure thousands of jobs.
“We believe shale gas has a vital role to play in the energy mix over many decades to come, and that an indigenous shale gas industry has the potential to kick start the kind of manufacturing renaissance in the UK that the US has already seen.
“The Westminster Government has announced consultation of the Shale Wealth Fund and suggested households near shale gas developments could receive payments from the resultant tax on revenues.
“While reactions in the communities and the media have differed, what is clear is that for England, the opportunities provided by shale gas development continue to get closer and more real by the day.
“At Ineos we welcome the payments as part of the benefits shale gas will bring. This new measure will sit nicely alongside our existing commitment to provide six per cent of our shale gas revenue to residents, landowners and communities near our development areas should the projects come to fruition.
“At the moment of course these developments are not of immediate concern to the people of Scotland as Holyrood’s moratorium into unconventional gas extraction is still in place.
“As we have said before, we respect the measured consideration of evidence the SNP has taken via the process, although we wonder whether it is necessary that it takes so long. We do not believe this is in the interests of the Scottish people and economy.
“It’s worth noting shale gas is coming to Scotland and the UK whether actual extraction takes place here or not. Our shale gas strategy aims to keep benefits and the energy on this island and would like the Scottish people to be part of this energy revolution.”