Updated: Ineos offers UK fracking test site

Ineos has offered to develop a fracking test site in the UK.

Fracking operation at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site. Photo: Cuadrilla Resources

The chemicals company said it had written to the government offering a fully-functioning shale gas test site. It said it would demonstrate that the technology could be safe and secure.

Ineos’s chairman, Sir Jim Ratcliffe:

“We will happily invite government inspectors to monitor what we do and if, at any stage, the science shows there are problems we will stop and make good the site.

“But if, as we believe, the opposite is true, we would ask that the government looks again at shale gas which would allow the UK to benefit from its own resources, massively reduce the cost of energy and ensure our long-term energy independence”.

Sir Jim said:

“The UK is in the midst of an energy crisis with ever increasing prices driving people into fuel poverty whilst giving huge sums of money to oppressive regimes.

“It’s a ridiculous situation with so much gas under our feet and we are today offering to drill a shale test site to show that a competent operator can be trusted to develop the technology safely.”

The move comes after the government asked the British Geological Survey to review the science behind fracking.

There has been a moratorium on the process in England since November 2019. This was introduced following earthquakes induced by fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool in 2018 and 2019.

Ineos is the biggest shale gas licence-holder in England. But planning permission lapsed last year on two of its shale gas sites, in Derbyshire (Marsh Lane) and south Yorkshire (Harthill). A third site in south Yorkshire, at Woodsetts, is still awaiting a decision on planning permission by the secretary of state, two years after the deadline.

Ineos said in a press statement that it was part of the “renewables revolution”. But it said renewable technology was “not yet reliable enough to take over and the UK will need gas for the next thirty years as it goes through the energy transition”.

Sir Jim said:

 “The UK is right to be re-examining its energy policy and to look again at the North Sea as part of the answer to our energy needs. But, as the US has shown, shale gas from home could make us self-sufficient in ten years and we need to re-examine this too”.

The company said the science behind shale gas had been “totally ignored” and politicians had “bowed to an extreme vocal minority”. It alleged that if there had not been a moratorium, shale gas could be being used in the UK now.

The government’s most recent survey of public attitudes to fracking found more than twice as many people oppose fracking than support it. The Wave Tracker survey from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy found 45% opposed fracking, while 17% supported. 30% neither supported nor opposed and 9% did not know.

A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire said:

“Ineos is claiming to offer to drill a shale test site to show that a competent operator can be trusted to develop the technology safely. The implication here is that companies who have been attempting exactly this and failing for the last decade are not competent operators. We might not argue with this conclusion but we do not need yet another company having another go at the expense of local communities across the country. They have had 10 years. How many tries do they think we should give them?

“Ineos is also claiming that UK fracking would “massively reduce the cost of energy”. Given that Cuadrilla, leading scientists and the government have all agreed that UK fracking will have no real impact on energy pricing in the UK or elsewhere, this is simply not true. We have to ask why they need to mislead the public to make their case. Fracking in the UK has been proven to be unsafe and unacceptable. It is the wrong technology, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. After the recent Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change report, it is clear that Ineos should stop pushing it as we need to transition away from fossil fuels, not invest in further assets that will simply end up being stranded.

“This is typical opportunism by Mr Ratcliffe of Ineos who is attempting to capitalise on the energy crisis at the expense of unwilling communities.”

30 replies »

  1. It will take more than one site to establish whether fracking is viable in the U.K. and the geology will differ from area to area. This smacks of nothing more than a PR stunt. I’m sure Cuadrilla will have asked to resume fracking many times since the moratorium was put in place. Sir Jim should shut up and wait for the BGS review, like the rest of us.

  2. “We will happily invite government inspectors to monitor what we do and if, at any stage, the science shows there are problems we will stop and make good the site…”

    The regulators don’t need the operator’s permission to monitor the site, they have statutory powers to enable that. Luckily for Cuadrilla, who clearly had neither the competence or intent to comply with the most basic of safety regulations, the HSE never even bothered to show up during fracking operations at PNR, despite assurances given to the minerals planning authority and members of the public.

  3. The rest of you will not invest, KatT. So, Sir Jim has every right to make his kind offer, but I suspect any up-take would indeed wait for the BGS review. And, yes, it would need more than one site to establish viability, but I believe Sir Jim is proposing a demonstration predominantly of safety.

    Who was it only a few days ago who was concerned about accurate information and detoxifying the debate? Hey ho, New Years resolutions don’t mean anything, either.

    • Did Jim fix it for you ? We say keep Frack Free not do free Fracks , desperation, opportunism and greed at its finest, never let a good crisis go to waste.

  4. I see that Sir Jim offers a site to demonstrate that the technology is safe and reliable. There is nothing in there which says that it will demonstrate that gas will be produced in suitable and sufficient quantity to make it profitable (although that is the expectation I guess).

    • Hewes62-since when have the facts been considered? Last time I saw a debate about facts on DoD they could only be facts if already happened, so confusion can be understood. Until anyone actually wants to determine the real definition of fact.

      Good for Sir Jim. His donations to the UK keep on adding up. Except arithmetic can be ignored when that is inconvenient, too.

  5. Monaco Jim says ” to show that a competent operator can be trusted to develop the technology safely”

    Surely he is not suggesting that those who have tried for the last decade were not competent? Is he?

  6. Typical opportunism by Mr Ratcliffe attempting to capitalise on the energy crisis at the expense of unwilling communities.

  7. Politically speaking, the current Tory government, with Sunak as Chancellor, prefers not to impose a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, who have recently made very considerable profits. This could bring fuel bills down using subsidies for ordianry people. Rather, Sunak wants to invest more in onshsore oil and gas exploration at a time when so many UK citizens are suffering food and fuel poverty. We have just had the last warning from the IPCC about the world keeping below 1.5C degrees increase in climate temperatures. This means that we need to concentrate on NOT increasing use of fossil fuels.

    Of course Boris Johnson wants to welcome his rich pals – including Radcliffe – here. The Tory policy smacks of an attidude similar to the anachronistic non dom rule, “lets get lots of rich people into the UK”, (not so much European workers that we need for Agriculture, or refugees in desperate circumstances).

    There are genuinely other climate-related jobs that could have been turbo charged by Sunak’s latest budget statement, but he has chosen, or been lobbied to choose, the fossil fuel route. If Radcliffe really wanted to curry favour, perhaps he should have offered to finance a large Carbon Capture plant.

    It is trruly unacceptable to see Mackinlay, Baker and now Radcliffe playing to the gallery to try and convince people that fracking is a general thing rather than differing according to area and geology. In the sense that the fracking industry produces large amounts of methane leaks and flaring, it is not what we need at this time of climate crisis. Labour’s and the Green Party’s policies are more honest, progressive, sane and sensible, and obviously in line with the current climate situation that we all face I for one am disgusted to see Radcliffe’s comments.

    • Well, CJR, Sir Jim is already here in UK. You can visit his HQ, here in UK. You can visit his many companies here in UK. You can visit several good cause projects that are proceeding in UK thanks to his donations.

      And, those oil and gas companies who very recently made large losses? The daft windfall tax was going to provide nowhere near the £9 billion that has been provided. But, it works when no one even attempts the arithmetic.

      However, for those who want windfall taxes on the oil and gas companies, then the more there are the better off “we” will be! As far as the unwilling communities, that is speculation. And, I think you will find it is Sir Jim who is wanting to invest in on shore gas, Sunak not required.

      My goodness, such a lot of squawking, deciding what others may want. Perhaps there would be less squawking if there was certainty about that?

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