Scottish energy guru tells Sturgeon: “Just like England, we need new Scots nuclear power and a green-light to shale gas energy”

Jim Ratcliffe at the launch of the INEOS Insight shale-gas supertanker
Jim Ratcliffe at the launch of the INEOS Insight shale-gas supertanker

The Scottish Government should support new nuclear power stations and give the go-ahead to unconventional (shale) gas to meet the challenges ensuring stability and security of baseload electricity supply. 

In his Scottish energy policy paper which truly lives up to the name of its sponsor – Reform Scotland – Stuart Paton, former Chief Executive of Dana Petroleum – now an independent Scottish energy advisor –  also calls for the Scot-Govt to lift its bans on nuclear Scottish nuclear and shale gas energies.

And while the challenge of climate change does require a de-carbonisation of energy, Scotland must develop its own energy policy ‘beyond a fixation on wind power and point scoring with Westminster’.

His call comes as the first Dragon-class  tanker full of US shale gas – being shipped to its Grangemouth refinery by petro-chems conglomerate INEOS – is due to arrive in Scotland on September 27.

This will provide a vital feedstock to keep the Grangemouth refinery in operation – domestic supplies from the North Sea are dwindling.

INEOS designed and built the new Dragon-class super-tankers in China specifically for this purpose after the Scottish Government announced a ‘temporary’ ban on all shale gas exploration in 2015.

Jim Ratcliffe, Executive Chairman of INEOS, commented: “Were it not for the fact that we have invested in bringing shale gas across from America, Grangemouth would be closed because there isn’t enough gas in the North Sea to continue to operate the Grangemouth petrochemical site.

“So, whether <some> Scottish politicians like it or not, the shale gas which has come from the US rather than the UK has saved 10,000 jobs in the Falkirk area.

“It just seems rational to me that if it is successful it would clearly generate lots of income and lots of investment in Scotland, and those things have got to be two of the things you have to achieve independence.”

He highlights a number of inconsistencies in the government’s Scottish energy policy and concludes  that  the wind farm gold-rush will simply result in Scotland importing power from England when the wind does not blow. Paton said:

  • “For example, the Scottish Government has a commitment to zero emissions from electricity generation by 2020, yet an outright rejection of nuclear power and continued support for a coal power station at Longannet.
  • “The government shows unbridled support for the offshore oil and gas industry (but not onshore unconventionals) < shale gas> –  despite this being counter to its green credentials on electricity generation.
  • “They have displayed a fervent evangelism for the beauty of the Scottish countryside, yet wholesale support for industrial scale windfarms which are having a dramatic effect on the landscape.
  • “They are an avowedly social democratic government which says it wants to reduce inequality but, through its commitment to zero emissions, adds a burden to all household fuel bills and provides significant income to wealthy landowners through subsidies.
  • “And, as the UK Government is backtracking on a raft of green energy supportive policies, what role should the Scottish Government take?”

Ahead of the Scot-Govt’s forthcoming Scottish Energy Strategy, Paton says the review has to take a holistic view, particularly in relation to the impact of climate change. He also recommends the Scottish Government step in to solve the current market-failure to develop the carbon capture and storage industry.

In his publication, ‘Energy Policy in Scotland’ Paton lays out the foundations for the above, as follows:

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