Chemicals giant Ineos is to announce plans to invest up to $1bn (£640m) in shale gas exploration and production in the UK, the BBC understands.
The company plans to use the gas as a raw material for its chemicals plants, including Grangemouth in Stirlingshire.
Grangemouth is currently running at a loss but Ineos believes shale gas will transform the economics of the plant.
Shale gas extraction is promoted as an important potential energy source but has prompted environmental concerns. […]
Ineos is currently 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 of the Midland Valley around the Stirlingshire site.
Ineos is also thought to have applied for further licences as part of the government’s ongoing onshore licensing round.
The company is expected to outline plans on Thursday to invest hundreds of millions pounds in UK exploration and production.
BBC industry correspondent John Moylan says the move will be seen as a significant vote of confidence in the sector, and will position Ineos as one of the major players in the emerging industry.