Ineos Seeks to Overturn Scottish Ban
Ineos, the privately-owned firm with a leading UK onshore shale gas exploration acreage position, announced January 9 it has requested a judicial review of the Scottish government's effective ban on onshore unconventional oil and gas extraction in Scotland.
Ineos Shale said it is challenging Edinburgh's decision in October 2017 to “effectively ban” onshore unconventional extraction by introducing a new planning policy of "no support." The company said it believes there were "very serious errors within the decision-making process, including a failure to adhere to proper statutory process and a misuse of ministerial power." It said the October announcement ended a two-year period, since 2015, during which the Scottish onshore oil and gas industry was left in limbo.
It lodged its petition with its co-venturer ReachCSG. Ineos and Reach are 80/20% partners in PEDL 162, in Scotland's central belt, while Ineos has 51% of shale exploration rights on adjacent PEDL 133.
Ineos, owned by multi-billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, further argues that a panel of scientific experts appointed by the Scottish government had concluded that shale development is capable of being managed safely. However the minister responsible argued three months ago that the effective ban followed an extensive period of evidence gathering, public engagement, and dialogue on the issue.
Plans to drill shales in England, including in some but not all cases using hydraulic fracturing, meanwhile are progressing.
In one case in West Sussex, Cuadrilla said January 9 its planning application to flow test and monitor an existing exploration well at Balcombe in southern England had just been approved by West Sussex county council’s planning committee until 2021; the company is looking for shale oil on that acreage. Its preparations for shale gas drilling/fracking in Lancashire, northwest England, continue - a drillrig was delivered to its Preston New Road site in July 2017.