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Fracking Debate Needed In Scotland

Monday, November 9, 2015

GMB Scotland Call For Rational Balanced Debate On Fracking In Scotland As Fife Plant Announces Deal To Use US Fracked Shale Gas

Over 80% of homes in Scotland are heated by gas so real issue is where we get gas from and who should take moral responsibility for extracting and supplying gas we use says GMB Scotland.

GMB Scotland, the union for gas and energy workers, commented on the report that Ineos has signed a deal with Exxon Mobil and Shell to secure ethane from US shale gas for the Fife Ethylene Plant (FEP) at Mossmorran. Copy of news story on BBC Scotland website dated 9th November 2015.

Gary Smith, Acting Secretary GMB Scotland, said “There is now a need rational balanced debate as Scotland will soon be importing the products of shale gas.

The ethane is vital to the chemical industry that employs thousands. The chemicals they make are in every into we depend on for modern life.

We need to get real and honest about our dependency on gas both for homes, industry and the chemicals industry.

Gas will remain crucially important in meeting Scotland’s future energy needs. The simple truth is that Scotland will be using gas for many decades to come. Over 80% of homes in Scotland are heated by gas.

The issue for Scotland isn’t therefore whether we will use gas or not. We will. The real issue is where we will get our gas from, and who should take the moral responsibility for extracting and supplying the gas we use.

As both the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the independent UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) have recognised, gas has an important part to play in Britain reducing our carbon emissions.

In fact, the future role of gas could be even more crucial in lowering CO2 emissions in Britain, through the development of micro combined heat and power units to produce heat and electricity for homes. Fuel cells which have zero carbon emissions will have a huge role to play in the future, and these will need gas too.

Our energy intensive industries need access to affordable, secure energy supplies. They need the certainty that Scotland’s energy mix will meet their needs. They, like Britain’s households, need gas to be part of that energy mix.

The debate about fracking must be based upon complete honesty about the economic realities of gas. A number of questions arise as follows:

- Is it acceptable for Scotland to import gas from countries where the safety, environmental and regulatory standards are lower than in Scotland?

- Should gas be imported from states where there is no civil society, no right to protest and where workers are denied basic trade union rights?

- Is it kinder to the environment for gas to be transported for thousands of miles across continents and oceans before we use it here in Scotland?

If exploratory drilling reveals a plentiful supply of Scotland shale gas reserves, is it not a moral duty for Scotland to take responsibility for providing for our own gas needs from those supplies, rather than importing gas from elsewhere?

GMB’s position on fracking must therefore be consistent with the need to organise the shale gas industry if it does develop, as well our duty to protect the future of the Scottish gas industry and the thousands of GMB members it currently employs.

If onshore fracking for shale gas does develop from its current exploratory status into an industry which will be supplying a significant proportion of the gas that Scotland needs, GMB will need every ounce of our organising expertise and commitment to safeguard the workers in the industry.

GMB believes that anything less than protecting these workers from exploitation in a fledgling industry, as we did with gasworkers 126 years ago, would be a betrayal of our history and moral responsibility.”


Contact: Gary Smith, GMB Acting Secretary on 07710 618909 or 0141 332 8641  GMB Press Office on 07921 289880 or 07974 251823.

Notes to editors

Copy of news story on BBC Scotland website dated 9th November 2015

Ineos signs ethane deal for Fife plant

Ineos has signed a deal with Exxon Mobil and Shell to secure ethane from US shale gas for the Fife Ethylene Plant (FEP) at Mossmorran.

Under the agreement, the plant will receive ethane from Ineos' new import terminal in Grangemouth from mid-2017.

Ineos said the new source of feedstock would complement supplies from North Sea natural gas fields and help secure skilled jobs "in the long run".

FEP is owned and run by Exxon Mobil, while Shell has 50% capacity rights.

The plant is one of Europe's largest ethylene facilities, with an annual capacity of 830,000 tonnes.

Landmark agreement'

Ethane gas is vital in the production of ethylene, which is used to manufacture a broad range of products.

Geir Tuft, business director at Ineos O&P UK, said: "This is a landmark agreement for everyone involved.

"We know that ethane from US shale gas has transformed US manufacturing and we are now seeing this advantage being shared across Scotland."

Elise Nowee, from Shell Chemicals, added: "This agreement gives FEP access to the new infrastructure developed by Ineos and in so doing brings US-advantaged ethane to FEP.

"The agreement will help us to meet the long-term needs of our ethylene customers."



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