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