Ineos wants UK to approve test shale site to prove fracking is safe

Chemicals firm Ineos has called on the government to allow it to develop a shale test site to demonstrate the viability of safe fracking in the UK.

The firm has made the offer following the UK’s increasing concerns about the mounting costs of energy and its energy security in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

There have been calls to step up local fracking production in order to help phase out imports of Russian oil completely by the end of the year. Currently, reserves are privatised so any oil that is produced is priced according to the global markets and therefore does not contribute to the UK’s energy security.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Ineos founder and chairman, 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 potential value of the UK’s fracking reserves is estimated to be in the billions and Ineos has long harboured ambitions to become the UK’s “biggest fracker”.

But it has regularly faced challenges from environmental campaigners and the Scottish Government which has placed restrictions on the sector over the potential damage that fracking can cause to the local environment.

The government has commissioned a review into the science around fracking, which could pave the way to lifting the current moratorium on the process brought in over the tremors it caused. Since the Ukraine invasion, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also said that more licences for North Sea oil exploration could be issued, despite the net zero commitments which the UK has already made.

“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,” Ratcliffe said.

“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”.

A study from 2016 found that public support for fracking was low, with just 37 per cent supporting domestic extraction.

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