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#Fracking: #Ineos to invest £640m in UK #shale gas exploration


Ineos has made no secret of its interest in shale gasIneos has made no secret of its interest in shale gas

Chemicals giant Ineos has announced plans to invest up to £640m in shale gas exploration in the UK.

The company plans to use the gas as a raw material for its chemicals plants, including Grangemouth in Stirlingshire.

Grangemouth is currently running at a loss, but Ineos believes shale gas will transform the economics of the plant.

Shale gas extraction is promoted as an important potential energy source, but has sparked opposition from environmental groups.

Exploration rights

Shale gas is extracted through a technique known as fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, in which water and chemicals are pumped into shale rock at high pressure.

Numerous anti-fracking groups have formed and protests have been staged at several sites over fears of earthquakes, water pollution and environmental damage.

shale gas extraction

Ineos is currently building Europe’s largest shale gas import facility to feed its petrochemicals plant at Grangemouth – but it wants to produce home-grown shale gas as well.

In recent months it has been buying up rights to explore across hundreds of square miles of the Midland Valley around the Stirlingshire site.

Ineos is also thought to have applied for further licences as part of the government’s ongoing onshore licensing round.

Safety ‘skills’

The company outlined plans on Thursday to invest hundreds of millions pounds in UK exploration.

“I believe shale gas could revolutionise UK manufacturing and I know Ineos has the resources to make it happen, the skills to extract the gas safely and the vision to realise that everyone must share in the rewards,” said Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe.

The firm added that “substantial further investment would follow if the company moved to development and production”.

BBC industry correspondent John Moylan said the move will be seen as a significant vote of confidence in the sector, and will position Ineos as one of the major players in the emerging industry.

But, he added, it will also put Ineos in the sights of protesters who believe shale gas and fracking are dangerous and harmful to the environment.

A spokesman for Greenpeace UK characterised Ineos’ investment as “giant speculative bets on unproven and risky resources”.

“It seems that Ineos have based their business plan on breathless PR brochures rather than scientific reports,” he added.

Shale license areasShale gas sites in UK.

‘Transparent bribe’

Earlier this year, Ineos announced plans to hand over up to £2.5bn of shale gas revenues to communities close to its wells.

The company has bought the licence for shale gas exploration and development across a 329sq km area around its Grangemouth power plant.

It will give away 6% of revenues to local homeowners and landowners.

However, Friends of the Earth Scotland criticised the move as “a transparent attempt to bribe communities”.

The British Geological Survey has estimated there are “modest” shale gas and oil resources in the area.

Fracking is used extensively in the US where it has revolutionised the energy industry.

The Scottish government has called for devolved powers on fracking after the UK government decided to press ahead with plans to let companies drill at depths of 300m below private land without consent.


Analysis: John Moylan, BBC Industries Correspondent

This sounds like a huge investment by Ineos.

But any firm wanting to bring shale gas from the exploration stage through to full production will have to spend hundreds of millions of pounds.

An industry report earlier this year suggested that a single shale gas production site with 10 wells might cost as much as £350m. So firms intending to have multiple gas production sites will have to spend eye-watering sums.

But the timing of this announcement is key. The government is currently assessing applications made by operators for new onshore licences to explore for shale gas.

Firms have to demonstrate that they have the cash and know-how to exploit a license area. If this has been a competitive license round – and there’s a suggestion that this is the case – then firms like Ineos will have to lobby hard to ensure they get the areas that they want.

There could be more announcements like this from other industry players in the weeks and months ahead.


Related Stories


BBC News.

#BioBus: UK’s first ‘poo’ bus goes into service between #Bristol and #Bath


The 40-seat The 40-seat “Bio-Bus” runs on biomethane gas generated through the treatment of sewage and food waste

The UK’s first bus powered entirely by human and food waste has gone into service between Bristol and Bath.

The 40-seat “Bio-Bus” runs on biomethane gas generated through the treatment of sewage and food waste.

The eco-friendly vehicle can travel up to 300km (186 miles) on one tank of gas, which takes the annual waste of about five people to produce.

It is run by tour operator Bath Bus Company and will shuttle people between Bristol Airport and Bath city centre.

The biomethane gas is generated at Bristol sewage treatment works in Avonmouth, which is run by GENeco, a subsidiary of Wessex Water.

GENeco general manager Mohammed Saddiq said: “Gas-powered vehicles have an important role to play in improving air quality in UK cities but the Bio-Bus goes further than that and is actually powered by people living in the local area, including quite possibly those on the bus itself.”


How do you power a bus with waste?

The bio-bus runs between Bath and Bristol Airport.

  • A single passenger’s annual food and sewage waste would fuel the Bio-Bus for 37 miles (60km).
  • Its combustion engine is similar in design to diesel equivalents in conventional buses.
  • Compressed gas is stored in dome-like tanks on the roof of the Bio-Bus
  • The gas is generated through anaerobic digestion – where oxygen starved bacteria breaks down biodegradable material to produce methane-rich biogas.
  • To power a vehicle, the biogas undergoes “upgrading”, where carbon dioxide is removed and propane added.
  • Impurities are removed to produce virtually odour free emissions.
  • Compared to conventional diesel vehicles, up to 30% less carbon dioxide is emitted.

Green capital

The service from the airport to Bath carries about 10,000 passengers each month.

Bath Bus Company’s Collin Field, said: “With so much attention being directed towards improving air quality generally, the public reaction to the appearance of this bus on a service between a world heritage city and an airport will further focus on the potential for this particular fuel.”

He said the bus was being launched at a very “appropriate” time, as Bristol is to become the European Green Capital next year.

Bristol sewage treatment works processes around 75 million cubic metres of sewage waste and 35,000 tonnes of food waste each year.

A total of 17 million cubic metres of biomethane, enough to power 8,300 homes, is generated annually at the plant through a process known as anaerobic digestion.


BBC News.

#Cameron Announces Plans to Remove British #Passports from Suspected #Terrorists


Prime Minister David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron has outlined further draconian “anti-terror” legislation.

Under the guise of cracking down on British “jihadists” fighting in Syria and elsewhere, the Conservative-led coalition government is to strip British citizens of their right to leave and return to the UK. This includes under-18-year-olds.

Cameron made his announcement in Australia on the eve of the G20 summit of world leaders. Outlining plans for another “counter-terrorism bill”, he promised to give police new powers “at ports to seize passports, to stop suspects travelling and to stop British nationals returning to the UK unless they do so on our terms.”

Presently, only the home secretary—using the royal prerogative—can prevent British citizens from travelling. Twenty-five people have had their passports confiscated since April 2013.

The new legislation will enable police to seize passports at ports for up to 30 days, if a senior officer has “reasonable suspicion” to believe travel is for terror-related activities. The same person’s passport can be seized multiple times.

New rules will be put in place requiring airlines to provide details of passenger lists or be banned from landing in the UK. Currently, some 10 percent of airline arrivals from Europe to the UK do not post passenger lists in real time, including most German airlines.

Home Secretary Theresa May will have the power to cancel passports and impose a “temporary exclusion” order for two years, to prevent a citizen returning to Britain if there is “reasonable suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity”. The order could be extended at the end of that period.

Any return to the UK will be dependent on the individual first being vetted overseas by the security services and agreeing to an escort home by UK authorities. They will have to agree that they could face prosecution on return, and will be placed on a terrorism prevention and investigation measure (TPIM), subject to strict bail-like conditions that include police monitoring and a “deradicalisation” course.

Anyone attempting to return in secret will face five years imprisonment.

Cameron outlined the measures in a 20-minute speech to the Canberra parliament in which he praised the shared values of “freedom” and “democracy” as the “bedrock” of British and Australian society.

His assertion was framed as part of increasing imperialist provocations against Russia and China, who were the target of much of the discussions at the G20.

Cameron claimed that it was necessary to stand against an “incipient creeping threat to our values” from “those who say that we will be outcompeted and outgunned by countries that believe there is a shortcut to success, a new model of authoritarian capitalism that is unencumbered by the values and restrictions we impose on ourselves. In particular, an approach that is free from the accountability of real democracy and the rule of law.”

In fact, it is the British and Australian governments that are dispensing with democracy and the “rule of law”. The fact that Cameron chose to outline the measures in Canberra, not Westminster, is indicative of this approach. The legislation has been approved behind closed doors between the Conservative leader and his Liberal Democrat coalition partners and is expected to become law in January.

The plans to effectively strip selected Britons of their citizenship are an unprecedented breach of international laws, to which the UK is a signatory, which prevents a person from being made stateless. By deeming the exclusion order as “temporary” the government claims suspects will not be stateless as they will still have the right to return, although on grounds dictated by UK authorities.

Human rights organisations have described such assertions as bogus as it will mean individuals being without travel documents for an extended period. Shami Chakrabarti, for Liberty, a human rights advocacy organization, said, “Dumping suspect citizens like toxic waste, abdicating your responsibilities to the international community, is a very strange way of promoting the rule of law.”

The Islamic “counter-extremism” think tank, the Quilliam Foundation, said the planned bill was a breach of international citizenship laws. “We should not develop legislation that assumes individuals are guilty until proven innocent,” a spokesperson said.

The government claims the moves are necessary to deal with 500 Britons thought to have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the bloody civil wars. Some 23 Britons are estimated to have died in the fighting, with an average age of 23.5 years.

In his speech, Cameron denied that the rise of Islamic extremism had anything to do with western foreign policy. Yet the fact remains that British actions in the Middle East, and the indiscriminate targeting of Muslim’s in the UK under current “anti-terror” measures, have indeed fuelled Islamic extremism. Moreover, just one year ago, the British government—along with the US—was casting the opposition to Syria’s Bashar Assad as a legitimate popular uprising that must be supported by all means, including with western military intervention.

The western powers were covertly helping arm the Syrian opposition and by extension, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Britain’s supposed allies in the “war on terror” include Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the major financial and political backers for ISIS.

The fact that the British government is not proposing any measures against ISIS’ backers in the Gulf States makes clear that the proposed legislation has nothing to do with the fight against terrorism. Once again, the threat of “jihadism” is being used to severely curtail democratic rights.

Claiming that the problem is an “extremist narrative” that must be “rooted out,” Cameron outlined new measures to further erode free speech by censoring anything deemed to be “extremist material.”

“We must ban extremist preachers from our country, we must root out extremism from our schools, universities and prisons,” he said.

“We must not allow the Internet to be an ungoverned space,” he went on, citing plans for the UK’s major Internet service providers (ISPs) to “strengthen” filters blocking material deemed to be “extremist.” This includes adding a “public reporting button.” BT and Sky have confirmed that they are working with the government to this end.

The Metropolitan Police have established a Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit, to remove “terror” related material. According to reports, it has removed 34,000 items considered to fall into this category in the last year.

Last month, May pledged that the Conservative manifesto for the 2015 general election will include a commitment to introduce “extremism disruption orders.”

Current legislation only enabled action against “extremists” advocating violence, May said. The proposed disruption orders would apply to anyone deemed to “spread hate” based on grounds of gender, race or religion, but who is not in breach of existing laws.

The orders would also apply to those undertaking “harmful activities” for the “purpose of overthrowing democracy.”

They would enable police to apply for a court order restricting the activities of anyone deemed involved in “harmful activities”, the definition of which includes the risk of “harassment, alarm or distress” or which constitutes a “threat to the functioning of democracy.”

May said that “extremism” covered those who consider “a woman’s intellect as ‘deficient’,” and who denounce “people on the basis of their religious beliefs.”

According to the Guardian, a successful order would include a ban on appearing on TV, radio, or a public forum and publishing on the Internet. It would impose “a requirement to submit to the police in advance any proposed publication on the web, social media or in print. Taking part in public protests or speaking at any public event would also be banned.”

Centre for Research on Globalization


Global Research.

#Shale gas unlikely to make the #UK energy self-sufficient, says report


Fracking’s potential has been ‘overhyped’ by politicians and shale gas will not reduce energy prices or reliance on gas imports, says UK Energy Research Centre.

The fracking site at Barton Moss, Greater Manchester. “Any talk of shale gas making the UK self-sufficient again ... is far-fetched,” says the UKERC report.The fracking site at Barton Moss, Greater Manchester. “Any talk of shale gas making the UK self-sufficient again … is far-fetched,” says the UKERC report. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Adam Vaughan for The Guardian.

Politicians have overhyped fracking’s potential and the prospect of shale gas making Britain self-sufficient in gas again is far-fetched, according to government-funded researchers.

The UK became a net importer for gas in 2004 as North Sea production declined, and the coalition has heavily promoted shale gas on the grounds of energy security and economic growth. David Cameron says the UK is “going out all for shale” and on Wednesday the government announced the first ‘national shale gas colleges’.

But a new report by academics at the Imperial College-based UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) says significant shale gas production in the UK is unlikely to get underway until next decade and will not reproduce the American ‘shale revolution’ that has put the US on course to energy self-sufficiency.

Jim Watson, an author of the report and professor of energy policy at the University of Sussex, said that industry and politicians had “overhyped” the impact shale will have on prices and energy security.

“Looking at the evidence base, it’s very hard to support some of the statements made both by industry and some politicians that it’s going to bring down prices, strengthen energy security or create jobs through cheaper energy any time soon. It may have an impact. But a lot depends on how fast shale develops,” he said.

The authors are unambiguous that shale gas will not reduce energy prices or reduce the UK’s reliance on gas imports, which are mostly supplied by Norway and Qatar today.

“Any talk of shale gas making the UK self-sufficient again, let alone allowing significant exports, is far-fetched,” says the report, The UK’s Global Gas Challenge. It also cautioned against “a blind belief that a future UK shale gas revolution will solve all our problems”.

A second report by UKERC warns that by 2025, the time any such shale gas industry is up and running in the UK, global gas consumption must have peaked and begin rapidly tailing off to avoid dangerous levels of global warming.

With the development of widespread technology to capture and store the carbon emissions from those gas plants, that deadline moves back to 2035.

But carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is so far largely unproven at scale and the world’s first major CCS power plant only switched on last month. UKERC’s report says “whether CCS will actually be commercialised or not is currently far from certain”, though Watson says recent developments in North America mean he is more optimistic than two years ago.

The report, A Bridge to a Low-Carbon Future? Modelling the Long-Term Global Potential of Natural Gas, suggests gas’s role as a quick fix to cut carbon emissions – gas emits significantly less CO2 than coal when burned – could be short-lived.

Gas has been hailed by some advocates as a ‘bridge’ or ‘transition’ fuel as economies move to renewable energy and nuclear power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change.

If CCS doesn’t take off, to keep temperature rises under 2C as governments have agreed to do, the report’s modelling showed “gas consumption peaked in 2025 and declined terminally thereafter: the role that gas can play as a transition fuel was thus substantially reduced”.

However, despite the short window of opportunity, the authors say the amount of coal that could be displaced by gas is significant in terms of cutting emissions.

Dr Christophe McGlade of UCL, who led the modelling work, said: “Gas could play an important role in tackling climate change over the next 10 to 20 years.”

Watson added: “In those countries which a have a lot of coal in their energy systems, China being the prime example, gas has a role to play with or without CCS.” He said ensuring gas consumption peaked and declined rapidly in 2025 or 2035 would “require significant policy intervention” from governments.

Separately on Tuesday, the Department of Energy and Climate Change announced the creation of the UK’s first specialist colleges for training people for the shale gas industry. Headquartered in Blackpool, the National College for Onshore Oil and Gas National College will be linked to colleges in Chester, Redcar and Cleveland, Glasgow and Portsmouth.

Matthew Hancock, the new Tory energy minister, said: “Families, villages and towns across the UK could benefit from this new industry and its supply chain which could create 64,500 jobs. That’s why we are investing in the people behind project. Only by arming people with the skills they need to be shale specialists can we provide career opportunities for thousands of young people, boost the power and competitiveness of our firms and help the UK economy remain strong and competitive.

“To make a world-class cluster of expertise in the North West of England, just as Aberdeen is a world class cluster of expertise for offshore oil and gas.”

Helen Rimmer, Friends of the Earth north west campaigner said in response: “The north west deserves investment in jobs and skills, but this should be in energy sectors of the future such as tidal, wave and solar which the region has in abundance – not dead-end fossil fuels.”

Gas consumption in the UK has already peaked, and development of UK shale gas has been slower than expected. Hydraulic fracturing to extract shale gas will not resume until 2015, the first exploratory fracking in the country since 2011.


The Guardian.

#UK: Four men arrested over suspected ‘Poppy plot’ days before Remembrance Sunday #ISIS


A general view shows the “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” installation by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and theatre stage designer Tom Piper, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, in the moat area of the Tower of London in central London. LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images.

Four men have been arrested in connection to a suspected Islamist terrorist attack on Remembrance Sunday.

Counter-terrorism police, acting on intelligence from MI5, arrested three men aged 19, 22, and 25 at addresses across west London and the High Wycombe. A fourth man, 27, was arrested in a street in west London.

Police also confirmed that a number of residential homes and vehicles were still being searched by specialist officers last night.

All four were taken to central police stations following their arrest, where they are currently being held on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism.

The arrests come amid tightened security following recent attacks in Ottawa and New York.

The Times reported this morning that the alleged plot is thought to have been inspired by Isis, also known as the Islamic State. Police and security services would not reveal whether there was a specific threat.

However, the BBC reported one official as pointing out the arrests came only two days before Remembrance Sunday and The Times wrote the timing of the arrests, overnight on Thursday, suggested an urgency to the operation – pointing to fears of an imminent attack.

Police confirmed that although firearms officers were deployed in at least two of the locations, no shots were fired in the course of the arrests.

The arrests started last night at 8.31pm in Southall when armed officers stopped a car and the man aged 27. Only a quarter of an hour later, simultaneous raids were conducted in Hounslow, where the man aged 22 was held and then High Wycombe where the youngest man, aged 19, involved was arrested. A 25-year-old man was detained in Uxbridge at 2.55am.

In a statement, the Met spokesperson said the arrests and searches were “part of an ongoing investigation into Islamist related terrorism”.

Officers from the Met’s SO15 counter terrorism command are working with the south-east counter-terrorism unit and MI5.

The arrests come after the UK national terror threat level was raised from “substantial” to “severe” in August. The raised level means a terrorist attack is considered “highly likely”.

The ceramic poppies at the Tower of LondonThe ceramic poppies at the Tower of London: “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” installation by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and theatre stage designer Tom Piper, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, in the moat area of the Tower of London in central London.


UK – The Independent.

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