Ineos set to become major shale gas player

INEOS, the chemicals giant with a large plant in Runcorn, intends to invest up to £640m in shale gas exploration and production in the UK.

According to a BBC report, the company plans to use the gas as a raw material for its chemicals plants.

It said Ineos believes shale gas will transform the economics of its Grangemouth plant which was threatened with closure last year.

Environmentalists claim fracking, which involves pumping water and chemicals deep under ground at high pressure, can pollute water supplies and the atmosphere.

But the industry, and the Government, argues the gas is essential for the UK’s energy security and could drive a massive new industry, worth £33bn over the next 15 years.

The BBC said Ineos has been buying up rights to explore across hundreds of square miles of the Midland Valley around the Grangemouth site. It is also thought to have applied for further licences as part of the government’s ongoing onshore licensing round.

The company is expected to give further detail about its plans later today.