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Chemicals firm to invest $1 billion in UK shale gas exploration

by Clare Burnett

Swiss chemicals firm Ineos is set to announce plans to invest around $1 billion (£640 million) in shale gas exploration and production in the UK.

According to the BBC, the company plans to use the gas as a raw material for its chemicals plants, including Grangemouth in Stirlingshire, which is currently running at a loss.

Ineos is building Europe’s largest shale gas import facility to feed its petrochemicals plant at Grangemouth, but it wants to produce home grown shale gas as well.

In recent months it has been buying up rights to explore across hundreds of square miles and is also thought to have applied for further licences as part of the government’s ongoing onshore licensing round.

Shale gas extraction is promoted as an important potential energy source but has been met with resistance, and the British Geological Survey has estimated there are only “modest” shale gas and oil resources in the area Ineos wants to extract.

Shale gas is extracted through a technique known as fracking, in which water and chemicals are pumped into shale rock at high pressure.

Numerous anti-fracking groups have formed and protests have been staged at several sites over fears of earthquakes, water pollution and environmental damage.

The company is expected to outline plans on Thursday to invest hundreds of millions pounds in UK exploration and production.

Earlier this year, Ineos announced plans to hand over up to £2.5 billion of shale gas revenues to communities close to its wells.

The Scottish government has called for devolved powers on fracking after the UK government decided to press ahead with plans to let companies drill at depths of 300m below private land without consent.