Scotland to extend frac ban indefinitely

By extending its ban on hydraulic fracturing, the Scottish government “is turning its back on a potential manufacturing and jobs renaissance,” according to an industrial supporter of shale-gas production.

By extending its ban on hydraulic fracturing, the Scottish government “is turning its back on a potential manufacturing and jobs renaissance,” according to an industrial supporter of shale-gas production.

Ineos Shale, operator of two exploration licenses between Glasgow and Edinburgh, criticized a decision announced Oct. 3 by Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse in the Scottish Parliament to continue indefinitely a moratorium in place since 2015 on the completion technique.

Environmental groups welcomed the decision, which Wheelhouse said means fracing “cannot and will not take place in Scotland.”

Parliament is expected to support the ban in a final vote when it reconvenes after an October recess.

“It is a sad day for those of us who believe in evidence-led decision-making,” said Tom Pickering, Ineos Shale operations director.

He called the decision “a slight on the dedicated professionalism that Scottish workers have pioneered in the North Sea.”

Pickering predicted Scottish workers will leave the country to find work as the mature North Sea oil and gas industry declines.

Ineos Shale’s parent is a chemical manufacturer importing ethane at its refinery and petrochemical complex at Grangemouth.

The operator also holds licenses for shale exploration in England.

Although consultation on hydraulic fracturing in Scotland focused on water safety and earthquakes, Sam Gardner, acting director of the environmental group WWF Scotland, said the ban relates to climate change.

“The climate science is clear. The vast majority of fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground,” he said. “It’s fantastic Scottish ministers agree that we need to start placing them off limits.”

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