INEOS has published an eight-page local newspaper pull-out about fracking to “set the record straight” about shale gas.
The advertising supplement, which is to be included with 10 Johnston Press titles, is headed A vision for shale gas and extraction in the East Midlands and what we believe it can deliver for local communities.
One of the first to appear in print was in the Mansfield Chad today. A digital version from INEOS here has a few important differences in the text.
In the supplement, INEOS said shale gas:
- Is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the country for the better
- Is a once in a life-time opportunity for the UK to become Europe’s leader in fracking
- Would reduce dependence on imported gas, create tens of thousands of jobs and generate significant tax revenue and growth
- Would power the nation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
The supplement, one of the most extensive shale gas promotions by an individual company, said it was legitimate for the government to overrule local councils on fracking applications.
It also urged readers to be open-minded and see what it called “the huge potential” for the country.
INEOS has 10 petroleum exploration and development licences (PEDLs) in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire and is already facing opposition.
Two petitions against fracking in Sherwood Forest have reached 275,000 signatures (see No fracking in Sherwood Forest). Last night the parish council for the site of what could be INEOS’s first shale gas application voted unanimously to oppose the proposals. (DrillOrDrop report)
“Time to set the record straight”
In an article in the supplement, INEOS director, Tom Pickering, said:
“At Ineos we really believe it’s time to set the record straight about shale gas.
“We know that shale gas presents the UK with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the lives of people up and down this country for the better: bringing energy security, new jobs, skills and investment.
“At INEOS, we believe shale gas could play an important part in providing us with the energy that could power the nation in the future and help to reduce CO2 emissions.”
He acknowledged that fracking had caused problems in the US but he said this happened in the early days of the industry and would not happen in the UK because “We have one of the most rigorous safety and regulatory regimes in the world”.
He said he understood people had concerns about fracking but said “there has been a lot of misinformation put out”.
“Essential to the modern world”
The supplement said shale gas would “invigorate and rebalance the economy for the East Midlands and country as a whole.”
The printed version claimed:
“Natural gas extracted from shale through fracking is essential for the modern world and many of the benefits it brings cannot be replaced by renewables.
“It is used for heating 22 million UK homes and without gas we would need to replace our gas-fired central heating systems at a cost of about £2,000 per household – which is £44 billion in total”.
The digital version, supplied this evening by INEOS, did not include the words “extracted from shale through fracking”.
The supplement confirmed the promise first made by INEOS last year to share 6% of revenue from shale gas wells between landowners and householders in immediate vicinity of shale gas wells and the wider local community.
It estimated that a shale gas development area measuring 10km by 10km would generate £375m for the locality over its lifetime.
INEOS quoted figures from the Institute of Directors and EY on the benefit of shale gas to jobs. In one section it said 64,000 jobs could be created but elsewhere it said shale could directly create 6,000 jobs and support between 64,500-74,000. It did not state that the estimate was based on peak production from 4,000 wells across the UK.
INEOS said it wanted to win a social licence, a term no longer widely used by shale gas companies. The supplement said:
“It is essential to undertake proper public consultation to better understand what shale gas could mean in [sic] for the UK and demonstrate its safety in order to won a social licence.”
It promised to be “open and honest in our dealings with local people and want to explain our plans as they develop”
DrillOrDrop asked how much the company had spent on the newspaper supplements but a spokesperson said the information was commercially confidential and would not be released.
Safety and fracking
The company said shale gas could be produced safely:
“Studies by the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, Public Health England, Health and Safety Executive and Environment Agency conclude that safety risks can be effectively managed, provided the industry is properly regulated and monitored.”
It claimed “INEOS has one of the best safety records in the industry”, adding:
“INEOS has a very good safety record within the chemical industry and we now have some of the world’s leading fracking experts working for us”.
The supplement said INEOS had experience of “complicated chemical plants”, employing over 17,000 people in 16 countries. It added:
“We already produce gas from the North Sea which serves 1 in 10 homes in the UK.”
“Firm regulation needed”
INEOS said: “All shale gas activity must be firmly regulated – which did not happen in the US under the Bush administration.
“Inadequate regulation can also lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions if methane is allowed to leak out of wells. But this is not inevitable. Well-regulated, electricity from shale gas has greenhouse gas emissions which are not significantly higher than those from natural gas and much lower than those from coal.”
The print version included the sentence (missing from the digital version):
“Design and the EIA process serves to sever the source-pathway-receptor linkage, thereby removing and reducing potential risk.”
The company said the aim of the planning process was to remove potential hazards or control them. If this was not possible, the company said, “the regulatory regime controls and minimises emissions in order to achieve a high level of protection for the environment and human health (mitigation).”
“Overruling local councils is legitimate”
In an article in the supplement, Stephen Tindale, a consultant for INEOS, wrote that he welcomed the decision by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to grant permission to Cuadrilla to frack in Lancashire.
[I] “accept that it is legitimate for national government sometimes to overturn decisions of local government in issues of national importance, which energy policy is.”
“No fracking in Sherwood Forest”
The supplement said INEOS would not frack in Sherwood Forest and its PEDLs did not include the legendary Major Oak.
The company said: “We have been clear in our publicly available materials that we excluded areas of urbanisation and environmental designations as surface drilling locations. Sherwood Forest nature Reserve, the county Park and other ancient woodland nearby clearly fall within the environmental designation description.”
The supplement did acknowledge that INEOS would be carrying out seismic testing in Sherwood Forest. This would be planned in consultation with Natural England and Nottinghamshire County Council, it said. If Sherwood Forest were to be fracked, this would be from a well drilled outside the designated area and at a depth of 3.5km.
INEOS dismissed scenes of gas coming out of water taps from the film Gasland as having “no basis in fact”. The company said:
“The rare examples of water contamination in the US were caused by issues such as poor well design, poor disposal of process water and poor capping of wells at the end of useful production; none of which will occur in the UK, because of the development of the technology; lessons learned from the US and the strict regulatory regime that will be in place control the shale gas industry.”
Impact on gas prices
INEOS said locally-sourced shale gas would improve security of supply and lessen the risk of high and volatile prices because of uncertainty about imports. But it also hinted that prices could fall:
“If the UK can help lead the development of shale gas in Europe then there is a real prospect of prices falling in the medium to long term.”
The supplement said fracking would not lower house prices “so much as the misinformation that exaggerates the risks of the technology and encourages people to talk down prices.”
Any risk of falling house prices should, the company said, reduce “if the technology is given the chance to go ahead and demonstrate its safety and minimal local impact”.