INEOS “more or less likely” to move into fracking

INEOS 200x200Ineos is giving the strongest signal yet of its intention to move into the controversial area of fracking.

The privately controlled chemicals group said it was now “more or less likely” that it would apply for a licence to extract shale under the 14th round of onshore applications launched by the government recently.

Ineos has already hired a small team of shale experts, and the company is also busy investing at Grangemouth to handle large quantities of ethane gas derived from shale in North America.

“Britain needs gas as part of its new energy strategy, both as a bridge to renewables and as a backup to intermittent [wind] power generation. If you have gas, why not use your own? Doing something [in the field of the extraction of UK shale gas] would be more or less likely for us, but as to exactly what we do not know yet,” said Ineos director, Tom Crotty.

“Clearly we need a degree of confidence that there is the gas that everyone says there is. The British Geological Survey [BGS] has given its view, but we need to make our own assessments,” he said.

Ineos needs gas as fuel for its chemical production plants at Grangemouth and Runcorn in Cheshire, and Tom Crotty expressed frustration at the slow place of UK shale development. He feels the industry is held back by a lack of clear communication and leadership.

There has been speculation in the past that Ineos might throw its weight behind one of the existing explorers, such as Cuadrilla Resources, but the chemicals group is now thinking it might “test the water” and apply for one of its own licences.

Over the past 12 months several larger companies, including Centrica, Total and GDF Suez, have joined smaller independents, such as Cuadrilla, Celtique Energie and IGas Energy, in taking a stake in various existing licences with shale potential.

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