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US Shale Gas is Causing quite a Stir in the U.K. as it Arrives in Britain for the First Time

US Shale Gas is Causing quite a Stir in the U.K. as it Arrives in Britain for the First Time
A wider debate about the impacts of the shale industry on the environment and the global economy has been set as shale gas from the U.S. arrived on the shores of the U.K. for the first time Tuesday.
A ship called the Ineos Insight would arrive on the banks of Grangemouth in east Scotland on Tuesday where a Scottish bagpiper will play a greeting for the ship amid much fanfare. However, the benefits of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" are expected to be dismissed by disgruntled campaigners when the ship arrives at the dock.
While in England shale gas technology is still at the exploratory stage with the ruling Conservative backing the industry and extolling its virtues, Scotland currently has a ban on the technology, which unlocks underground oil and shale gas resources using high-pressure steam and chemicals.
Headquartered in Switzerland, Ineo is a privately owned multinational chemicals company. He needs the shale gas to make chemical products, fuels and plastics at his Scottish plant, says Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire founder and chairman of the firm. The U.S. was "immensely more competitive" than his home nation where North Sea oil is in its "sunset years", Ratcliffe told the BBC on Tuesday morning.  The price of U.S. gas can be as much as a third of the price of U.K. gas, he added.
The company wants to sustain the 10,000 jobs it provides in Scotland and also states that it needs the cheaper gas to keep the plant open after it has "limped along for the last three years."
For violating environmental regulations, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection of the U.S. had earlier fined Range Resources – the suppliers of the gas to the U.K., campaigners are quick to point out. The anti-fracking group Frack Off said on its website on Tuesday that Ineos has a "corporate agenda that damages communities' health." A major part of any shale gas industry that potentially germinates in the U.K. is expected to be Ineos.
The rigorous public relations push that Ineos has undergone this week was highlighted by other critics. In addition to being put up in a hotel overnight, journalists covering the Ineos Insight's arrival have been taken out to dinner, breakfast and lunch, the Ferret, an investigative journalism website, reported.
Meanwhile, a little irony to Tuesday's arrival has been added by an annual conference from the opposition Labour Party this week. The party claimed that the priority should be clean energy and said that if it wins the next parliamentary elections it would ban fracking in England, re party said amid a slew of announcements from the Labour Party.
While economists and analysts have been saying that shale gas has spurred economic activity and contributed to the country's bounceback for the financial crash of 2008 and have been praising shale for years,, lower oil prices has added fresh challenges for the sector in the U.S. A "decaying" city had been "absolutely transformed" by this energy renaissance, said Ratcliffe giving the example of Pittsburgh, when speaking to the BBC. 

Christopher J. Mitchell

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