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Ineos chief Jim Ratcliffe believes concerns about the safety of hydraulic fracturing are overblown

‘Fracking is safe’ claims Ineos boss as US shale gas arrives

Image credit: Battenbrook, Wikimedia Commons

Fracking is extremely safe and could revive communities paralysed by manufacturing collapse, said Ineos chief Jim Ratcliffe as the first shipment of US shale gas arrived at Grangemouth.

Talking to BBC Radio Scotland, Ratcliffe referred to the US experience, saying that fracking only caused ‘occasional issues’ but otherwise has been largely safe.

"The United States is the most highly regulated society in the world, it has the largest chemical industry in the world which is highly regulated,” Ratcliffe said.

"They don't allow you to do things that are unsafe or environmentally unfriendly in the United States and I don't think shale is any different.”

He named the city of Pittsburg as an example of a community that benefitted from the development – a possible model for struggling UK communities if fracking ever receives a go-ahead.

"You have to think about jobs and investment, and if you look at Scotland do you want those 10,000 jobs or do you not want those 10,000 jobs that have been saved by shale," he said referring to workers employed by Ineos.

"You have to accept the world is not perfect, chemicals is not a perfect world, occasionally we have spillages and we have incidents because we're not perfect. It's like occasionally you get a puncture in your car. However hard you try, things go wrong occasionally.”

He further said that shale gas is necessary for the UK chemicals industry to make up for dwindling North Sea oil and gas resources.

"There simply is insufficient raw material coming out of the North Sea to run Grangemouth," Ratcliffe said.

"We're talking about 10,000 jobs in total that depend on that Grangemouth facility, so if it were not for the shale gas we are bringing in from the USA, Grangemouth would have closed three years ago."

However, he said, Ineos would prefer to use local shale gas instead of importing from the US, despite the fact that the firm has just launched its shale gas terminal that operates eight tankers transporting US shale gas across the Atlantic. The project cost £1.6bn.

The first tanker carrying 27,500m3 of ethane from US shale fields reached Ineos’s refinery in Grangmouth today.

Environmentalists criticised Ineos’s decision to rely on imported shale gas to keep operations running.

''It is completely unacceptable to attempt to prop up Ineos's petrochemicals plants on the back of human suffering and environmental destruction across the Atlantic,” said Friends of the Earth head of campaigns Mary Church.

"The fact that Scottish public money is tied up in this project is disgraceful.

The Scottish Government currently has a moratorium in place preventing fracking in Scotland, as ministers consider the evidence. The Labour Party announced yesterday it would ban fracking in the whole of UK if it wins the next election.

Scottish Enterprise's managing director of growth companies, innovation and infrastructure, Adrian Gillespie, said: "An important contributor to the Scottish economy, we've been working intensively with Ineos since 2013 when the company cemented its commitment to Scotland in a £450m investment plan.

"This £150m ethane project is a key part of that investment and we are pleased to be supporting it with a £9m Regional Selective Assistance grant, helping safeguard or create over 400 jobs.”



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