Energy giant Ineos has written to the UK’s government asking for the opportunity to develop a test site for extracting shale gas to prove that the process is safe for use in the country.
Unlike conventional oil reserves, the release of shale oil and gas requires a high-pressure mix of chemicals, water and sand to be directed at a layer of rock, a process known as fracking. This has revolutionised the US oil industry, with many oil majors like BP and ExxonMobil, which also make the Castrol and Mobil lubricant products, embracing the technology.
In a statement, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the boss of Ineos, said that exploiting the country’s shale gas reserves would enable:
“The UK to benefit from its own resources, massively reduce the cost of energy and ensure our long-term energy independence. We are today offering to drill a shale test site to show that a competent operator can be trusted to develop the technology safely.”
The technology is more controversial in the UK, however, due to it being more densely populated than areas of the US where fracking is employed. Trials of the technology were stopped in 2019 over concerns about earth tremors, but the rising cost of energy has led to renewed interest in whether fracking can be safely employed in the UK.
The government did not cite fracking in its recently published updated energy strategy, but it has ordered a scientific review of the technology, which could open the door for companies like Ineos to perform field trials.