First US shale gas shipment arrives in the UK as fracking debate rages

Jessica Morris
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Ineos will take a delivery of a tanker carrying 27,500m3 of ethane

The first ever shipment of US fracked gas is set to arrive in Britain this morning amid an increasingly fiery debate about the future of fracking in the UK.

Billionaire Jim Ratcliffe's petrochemical company Ineos will take a delivery of a tanker carrying 27,500m3 of ethane at its Grangemouth plant in Scotland.

The imported shale gas will replace dwindling supplies of natural gas from the ageing UK Continental Shelf.

Read more: Ineos will take a delivery of a tanker carrying 27,500m3 of ethane

Ratcliffe said: "This is a hugely important day for Ineos and the UK. Shale gas can help stop the decline of British manufacturing and today is the first step in that direction."

It comes a day after Labour announced it would ban fracking to focus on the development of low carbon energy.

"Fracking locks us into an energy infrastructure that is based on fossil fuels long after our country needs to have moved to renewables," shadow energy secretary, Barry Gardiner, said during a speech at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool.

But green groups who have long opposed the development of a shale gas industry in the UK hit out at the delivery.

Mary Church, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "It is completely unacceptable to attempt to prop up Ineos's petrochemicals plants on the back of human suffering and environmental destruction across the Atlantic. The fact that Scottish public money is tied up in this project is disgraceful.

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''Setting aside the devastating local impacts of fracking, the climate consequences of extracting yet more fossil fuels are utterly disastrous."

The UK government has been a long-term advocate of fracking and has argued that the controversial practice could not only produce more jobs but also lead to greater energy security.

But the Scottish government has effectively banned all shale gas projects, by issuing a moratorium, while a study into their impact is carried out.