EXCLUSIVE: Three Aberdeen-based developers join Maersk, Total and Cuadrilla in shale-gas ‘gold rush’ in England

INEOS's planned new £400 million  Grangemouth head office.
INEOS’s planned new £400 million Grangemouth head office.

INEOS – the company which owns and operates the economically-significant petro-chem refinery at Grangemouth in the Central Belt – has emerged as one of the winner’s in the UK shale-gas exploration ‘gold-rush’.

It is one of the 45 oil and gas companies which has applied for new shale gas exploration licences in England.

Other confirmed bidders for onshore shale exploration licences – including three Aberdeen-based developers –  in the UK government’s 14th Licensing Round include: –

  • Aberdeen Drilling Management (where partners include Milroy Capital and Aberdeen Hydrocarbon Development Ltd)
  • Alkane Energy
  • Angus (where partners include Angus Energy Ltd and UK Oil and Gas Investments plc – which is not connected to the Oil and Gas UK trade association)
  • Aurora Energy Resources Ltd
  • Celtique Energie Petroleum Ltd
  • Swift Exploration Ltd
  • Cuadrilla Resources Ltd (which is presently seeking permission for exploration wells in Lancashire)
  • Existing North Sea offshore oil operator GDF Suez UK E&P UK
  • Hutton Energy plc (named after the Scottish ‘inventor’ of geology James Hutton and after whom the Dundee-based James Hutton Institute is named)
  • Total E&P UK – another existing North Sea oil explorer
  • Osprey Petroleum Ltd/ OK Energy Ltd
  • Maersk Oil North Sea (an existing offshore oil and gas operator/ explorer)
  • Aberdeen-based Ithaca Energy Ltd
  • Aberdeen-based Reach Coal Seam Gas Ltd
  • South Western Energy Ltd
  • Third Energy Ltd
  • Warwick Energy Ltd

Most of these applications are for onshore shale gas drilling and exploration, with a minority applying for coal-bed methane and subsea coal-gasification permits.

INEOS already holds onshore shale gas exploration licences for blocks around its Grangemouth plant and in other neighbouring blocks – but has been caught in the Scot-Govt. moratorium on ‘unconventional’ oil and gas drilling announced by Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing in January 2015.

The company is already one of the UK’s biggest shale gas players with over 300,000 acres in its portfolio.

An INEOS spokesman said: “We applied for many of these licences <in the latest/ 14th round> and hope to be successful in all areas we have targeted.

“Unlike many of our rivals, we can use shale gases as both a feedstock and a power source at our petrochemical sites across the UK – including Grangemouth in Scotland.

“This means shale gas could help underpin INEOS competiveness for years to come.  Potentially these new ‘shale economics’ could bolster the wider UK manufacturing sector as they have done in the US.

INEOS has committed to full consultation with all local communities before proceeding with any Shale gas development. In addition, it has said it will share 6% of revenues with the people and communities directly above Shale gas wells.

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