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Chemical Giant Expects Fracking Green Light In Scotland Next Year

Daniel Sanderson, The Herald Scotland

The firm that wants to establish a fracking industry in Scotland still expects the controversial technique to get the green light, despite Nicola Sturgeon publicly suggesting that she will block its plans permanently.

US shale gas arrives in Europe for the first time ever this week on an Ineos ship. Weekly deliveries will begin in Grangemouth in the summer.

US shale gas arrives in Europe for the first time ever this week on an Ineos ship. Weekly deliveries will begin in Grangemouth in the summer.

Senior figures at Ineos, the owner of the Grangemouth industrial complex which holds fracking exploration licences for large swathes of central Scotland, said the company remains supportive of a Scottish Government moratorium and evidence gathering process, believing its position would be vindicated by new research which will mean fracking is permitted from next year.

Ms Sturgeon has recently hardened her stance against unconventional oil and gas, revealing she is “highly sceptical” about fracking in response to Scottish Labour calling for a ban and going even further in a televised pre-election debate on Thursday night.

The First Minister said: “If there is any suggestion at all it harms our environment there will never be fracking allowed in Scotland as long as I’ve got anything to do with it”.

She also hinted that Scottish Government research on fracking decommissioning had actually been ordered to justify a ban, saying “perhaps what we’re trying to show is just how expensive and difficult it might be to do that” and said a move to block fracking now could lead to a legal challenge.

However, a spokesman for Ineos said the firm was taking “at face value” assurances that a final decision would be based on scientific evidence and believes that results of new research would back up a previous Scottish Government commissioned study which concluded fracking can be carried out safely, if properly regulated.

The company spoke out this week as US shale gas was imported into Europe for the first time ever when the first of a fleet of eight purpose built ships arrived at its Norwegian plant after crossing the Atlantic. Weekly deliveries are due to begin at Grangemouth, where shale gas from America will be stored in a giant, purpose built tank and used as a feedstock for its petrochemical business, in the summer.

Asked about the First Minister’s scepticism as the ship, emblazoned with a slogan ‘Shale Gas for Progress’ and a Saltire arrived in Norway on Wednesday, an Ineos spokesman said that the firm expected to be given permission to begin fracking once a moratorium ends next year and that it made little sense for Scottish manufacturing to be reliant on shale gas from America while domestic reserves go untapped.

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