INEOS, one of the world’s largest chemical firms, is reportedly planning to invest £640m in shale gas exploration across England and Scotland.
Expected to make an official announcement later today (November 20), the company has previously announced the intention to produce shale gas for its Scottish facility in Grangemouth.
The BBC has reported that the Grangemouth plant is currently “running at a loss”, however the introduction of shale gas is hoped to move the facility back into profitability.
Extracted through a technique involving the high pressure injection of water and chemicals into shale rock, known as fracking, the process has proven to be an extremely contentious subject.
The prospect of fracking on UK shores has given rise to concerns in a number of environmental groups, sparking protests over the potential damage and pollution it may have to the environment.
Earlier this year, INEOS announced plans to give upwards of 6% of its shale gas revenues to homeowners, landowners and communities who reside about its shale gas operations. Anticipating it will become a major player in the shale gas industry, the amount could equate to more than £2.5bn over the life of its business.
Describing the move as potentially “game changing” for Britain, its founder and chairman, Jim Ratcliffe, added: “Giving 6% of revenues to those directly above shale gas wells means the rewards are fairly shared by everyone.
“It’s what they do in the USA and we think it is right to do this here…It democratises the shale gas revolution.”
Ratcliffe believes that a UK shale gas industry could create thousands of direct new jobs and far more indirect positions. By leveraging the potential of shale gas, INEOS aims to give the UK “energy security” for the first time in many years.
The chairman also noted that it was “extremely important” that communities know that shale gas can be “extracted, transported and processed safely and in an environmentally responsible way.”