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Jim Ratcliffe: Shale Gas Can Revive Britain’s Depressed Northern Towns

The Sunday Times

Shale gas could revive the depressed northern towns of Britain and be the catalyst for reviving Britain’s industry, says Jim Ratcliffe

[…]  Today, 13 of the 78 manufacturing sites Ineos operates are in the UK. Britain’s manufacturing malaise pains Ratcliffe — he draws a direct link between the collapse of industrial jobs in the north of England and the vote for Brexit.

He is particularly unimpressed with politicians who seem happy to lunch bankers and spurn manufacturers. His disdain for the “platitudes” of the Northern Powerhouse initiative trumpeted by the former chancellor George Osborne is caustic. “I mean, apart from a banner headline, what on earth does that mean?” he asks.

So what would he do to revive the depressed northern towns of his homeland? The answer will dismay many green groups — and many in middle England. Ratcliffe is one of the most articulate voices in favour of fracking, the process of extracting shale gas from deep underground. The price of gas has fallen by more than 60% since the advent of the fracking boom in America and has helped to power a renaissance of manufacturing investment there. Fracking could also prove a catalyst for reviving British industry, he argues.

“The US now has just about the cheapest energy in the world — and it has $150bn of investment on the slate to build chemical facilities. And then you’ve got the steel industry, and the car industry, and the power industry, all off the back of the fact that their energy prices are much lower. What’s the reason to invest in the UK? Our skills are not great. We’ve got to deal with unions. We’re isolated from Europe. We’ve got logistical costs. Low tax rates help, but cheap energy could really help create those manufacturing jobs we need.”

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