U.S. shale gas shipped to Scotland in the form of LNG is sustaining a manufacturing economy there and making hypocrites of Scottish fractivists.
Sometime this month, the first ethane shipment from U.S. shale is coming to the UK, ironically to Scotland to be used as feedstock at the Ineos Grangemouth facility.
It raises the same questions for the no shale anywhere school that have already arisen over imports of U.S. shale oil and U.S. LNG from shale already arrived in Spain and Portugal. U.S. LNG will be headed to the UK and Belgium soon enough. It will be hard to propose no shale development be permitted anywhere when it’s already lurking in the water heater.
Ethane is just part of the methane flowing out of Pennsylvania’s gas field and is the precursor for ethylene to polypropylene production. From that modest substance, most of modern life derives. It will even be used for the £5 notes that came into circulation last week as noted here back in 2013 when I noted that one can actually make money of out of shale gas. Literally:
The company that makes the polypropylene film for the notes is Innovia Films based in Wigtown in Cumbria. They use £7 or 8 million of gas as fuel a year and their raw material for the polypropylene comes from INEOS. INEOS will soon be importing Pennsylvanian shale gas ethane as the feedstock that eventually will become fivers in our pockets.
It’s doubly ironic as the Scottish Government has the most confused thinking going on shale gas, as refinery owner Jim Ratcliffe said last week:
The owner of Grangemouth refinery has accused the Scottish Government of “hypocrisy” by impeding fracking when shale gas imports are protecting 10,000 jobs in and around the economically vital plant.
In an interview with the Scottish Daily Mail, Mr. Ratcliffe said Grangemouth “would be closed today” without shale gas imports.
He said: “Whether the Scottish politicians like it or not, the shale gas which has come from the US rather than the UK has saved 10,000 jobs in the Falkirk area.
“And that’s 5% of the Scottish GDP. So whether they like it or not they have embraced shale gas and 10,000 people’s livelihood depends on shale gas from the USA.”
He added: “There is sort of an element of hypocrisy there.”
Sort of? Jim Ratcliffe, unlike many in his company, isn’t scared of being brutally honest. He’s in a better position than many in shale since his company is privately held. Ineos is in a curious position. No one can boycott the Ineos brand because there isn’t one and it’s impossible to boycott the products derived from ethane either. That includes plastic, paint, dyes, pharmaceuticals and fivers. Anti-frackers may need to go increasingly cashless.
Editor’s Note: Going cashless would be poetic justice for the anti-fracking Scots and fractivists everywhere, would it not? It would also complement their senseless views. Nick has some further observations on what this would mean for them. Read the whole thing here.