The first shipment of American shale gas extracted by the controversial fracking technique will arrive in Scotland next month, The Times has learnt.
Industry insiders have confirmed that the first of a fleet of “Dragon-class” ships, each capable of transporting huge quantities of the shale gas ethane, will dock within the next seven weeks.
The shipment into the Ineos petrochemical complex at Grangemouth is expected to trigger environmental protests by campaigners who believe that the imports will undermine arguments against fracking for shale gas in Scotland’s central belt.
The ship, likely to be the Intrepid, will be hard to miss. Not only is she 590 feet long, but the slogan “Shale Gas for Progress” is emblazoned on her side — promoting the gas extraction technique which is still dividing communities and experts.
With fracking in the UK moving rapidly up the political agenda, the first shipment to arrive in Scotland for processing will put further pressure on Nicola Sturgeon’s government to make a decision on the controversial energy source for Scotland. The Scottish government has imposed a moratorium on all fracking and the first minister has made it clear that she will only authorise the extraction method in Scotland if she is convinced there will be no damage to the environment.