EXCLUSIVE: Mystery deepens over on-off Scot Govt ‘fracking ban’ as INEOS wins extension for onshore oil and gas exploration licence around Grangemouth petro-chems plant

INEOS ships in two super-tankers full of US shale g as to Grangemouth per month as it is unable to get enough Scottish shale gas from either onshore or offshore North Sea sources to meet demand.
INEOS ships in two super-tankers full of US shale gas to Grangemouth per month as it is unable to get enough Scottish shale gas from either onshore or offshore North Sea sources to meet demand. The INEOS INSIGHT (above) and other supertankers were built in Chinese shipyards.

EXCLUSIVE by Scottish Energy News

Despite the Scot-Govt’s on-off ‘fracking’ ban on onshore oil and gas exploration, global petro-chemicals giant INEOS has been granted a UK government extension to its shale gas exploration licence in the Central Belt near its Grangemouth complex.

Friends of the Earth Scotland – the very excitable pressure group – yesterday claimed that the Petroleum and Exploration Development Licence 162 granted to INEOS for onshore oil and gas exploration had been authorised by the Scot-Govt.

But PEDLs are issued by the Aberdeen-based Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) which licenses onshore oil and gas exploration permits. OGA is part of the UK-government’ Business and Energy Department (BEIS)

The ‘on-off’ Scottish fracking ban is presently in legal limbo.

A Court of Session ruling last month decided that the Scot-Govt’s so-called ‘fracking ban’ – which has been much trumpeted by Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish Energy Minister – does not now, and has never, existed.

The judge in the appeal by INEOS against the so-called fracking ban said that there is no such thing in law and that any statements and publicity notices and statements in Holyrood by Wheelhouse were all merely ‘press releases’ which have no legislative basis.

‘Oh yes they do,’ was the immediate retort by Wheelhouse for the Scot-Govt.

Like angels dancing on the head of a pin, last night, Wheelhouse issued the following statement:

“The extension of the PEDL 162 licence does not alter the current position that we do not support the development of unconventional oil and gas while the statutory assessments on the Scottish Government’s longer-term preferred policy are undertaken, as explained in the Minister’s statement last October. It should be remembered that the area affected does not have planning permission or the necessary environmental licences required prior to allowing any unconventional oil and gas extraction.

“In that regard, a result of the actions taken by this (Scottish) Government, no local authority can grant planning permission for any proposed fracking or coal bed methane project and Scottish Ministers would defer any decision on any planning application that did come forward until the full policymaking process on our preferred position is completed and, as Ministers propose, a policy to not support unconventional oil and gas is adopted in planning policy.

“The practical effect of the moratorium established in 2015 is that no fracking can take place in Scotland at this time.”

A spokesman for Friends of Earth Scotland (FoES) explained: “The Scottish Government has extended the initial term of PEDL162, a licence owned by INEOS and Reach CSG and earmarked for fracking covering 400km2 in the central belt, for one year.

“Extending this licence risks adding to the confusion caused by INEOS’s recent legal challenge, and only increases the pressure on the Scottish Government to move forward with its decision making process, legislate to ban fracking and draw a line under this issue for good.

“It is disappointing that the Scottish Government has opted to extend the license that was due to expire last month, when people locally and nationally have said no to fracking so clearly.

“The operators have already had one extension to this licence and despite having consents in place before the moratorium on fracking, they hadn’t fulfilled their drilling commitments, so clearly this license should have been revoked.

“While it is unlikely that the operators will be able to do much in terms of advancing their shale gas ambitions in 12 months, it is an uncomfortable position for the Scottish Government to take given its opposition to fracking.”

See also:

Friends of Earth intervene in INEOS appeal against Scot-Govt fracking ban with illegal claims banned by UK Advertising Standards Authority


10 Jul 2018

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