The Scottish government decided to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the country after it received 99% responses opposing to the onshore exploration method in a public consultation. “It is clear that people across Scotland remain firmly opposed to fracking – this government has listened and taken decisive action,” said Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse.
“It’s a sad day for those of us who believe in evidence-led decision making. The Scottish government has turned its back on a potential manufacturing and jobs renaissance,” said INEOS Shale operations director Tom Pickering, in a statement sent to Kallanish Energy.
The company argues the announcement came at the end of a two-year process during which the Scottish industry was left in limbo. Given its high reliance on gas for feedstock, INEOS launched a mega project to import U.S. shale gas into Scotland and help its struggling petrochemical complex Grangemouth to revive.
INEOS Shale owns a number of oil and gas exploration licenses across Scotland, which couldn’t be used due to the moratorium in place since 2015. Instead, it temporarily decided to focus on licences and developments in England, where government supports fracking. It’s not clear what will happen to the exploration rights the company has acquired in Scotland.
“Natural gas will be needed by Scotland for the foreseeable future and production from the North Sea continues to decline. This decision, which beggar’s belief means gas becomes a cost for the Scottish economy instead of an ongoing source of income,” said Pickering.
“It speaks volumes about Scottish leadership on the world stage and sends a clear and negative message to any future investors in Scotland. Expert reports have clearly stated that this technology can be applied safely and responsibly, but it will be England that reaps the benefits.”
Wheelhouse said that regardless of the government’s position on unconventional oil and gas, the support for Scotland’s industrial base and manufacturing is “unwavering.”
He added: “The Scottish government understands that a supportive fiscal regime, affordable energy, access to the right skills, and good infrastructure are all essential to future success. That’s why this government will continue to support industry in a range of different ways in the months and years to come.”
Both INEOS and onshore oil-and-gas trade body UKOOG claim the “poor decision” lacked evidence and ignores independent findings and the local expertise in oil and gas from the North Sea.
“With a report commissioned by the Scottish government itself judging shale production safe, today’s decision seems bizarre,” INEOS said in a statement. Meanwhile, UKOOG’s CEO Ken Cronin added “this is a decision that is based on dogma, not evidence or geo-political reality.”