LONDON (Reuters) – Chemicals and energy giant INEOS has offered to develop a shale gas test site in Britain to demonstrate to the government that extraction by fracking can be performed safely.
The offer comes as Britain re-evaluates its energy policies. On Thursday the government set out plans to expand nuclear and offshore wind power as part of new strategy to bolster energy independence.
It has also ordered an expert report on shale gas fracking, saying that all energy supply options should be on the table in light of soaring oil and gas prices exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Shale gas from home could make us self-sufficient in 10 years and we need to re-examine this, too,” said Jim Ratcliffe, INEOS founder and chairman.
The fracking process, which involves extracting gas from rocks by breaking them up with water and chemicals at high pressure, is fiercely opposed by environmentalists who say it is at odds with Britain’s commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Britain imposed a moratorium on fracking in 2019, which INEOS said ignored U.S. evidence of its safety.
The company said that it had written to the British government to offer to develop a test site to allay concerns over fracking and show that the technology can be managed safely.
“We will happily invite government inspectors to monitor what we do,” said Ratcliffe. “If, at any stage, the science shows there are problems, we will stop and make good the site.
“But if, as we believe, the opposite is true, we would ask that the government looks again at shale gas, which would allow the UK to benefit from its own resources, massively reduce the cost of energy and ensure our long-term energy independence.”
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by David Goodman)