Ineos is planning to invest up to £640 million in the UK’s shale gas sector, according to media reports.

The chemicals firm, which relies on natural gas as a feedstock for its manufacturing units in Scotland and Norway, is expected to outline plans to invest in exploration to evaluate shale gas resources in Scotland.

The firm has already bought the right to explore the area surrounding its Grangemouth refinery in Scotland and recently announced plans to give six per cent of its shale gas revenues to homeowners, landowners and communities close to its wells.

Ineos believes that dwindling supplies of gas from the North Sea and rising energy costs are a threat to the future of its petrochemicals business. It is planning to start shipping gas from the USA to its European sites in 2015 and has also acknowledged the UK’s indigenous shale gas deposits as a potential resource.

“Ineos could soon be drilling for shale gas in a bold move that could help safeguard the future of manufacturing in the UK and increase Britain’s energy security," it says on the firm’s website.

However the firm believes that current arrangements with individuals and communities are not sufficient to overcome opposition to fracking operations, and has therefore announced its revenue-sharing scheme.

“We think this is a game changer for Britain," said Ineos Chairman Jim Ratcliffe in September. "Giving six per cent of the revenues to those living above our shale gas operations will give them a real stake in the success of the venture and encourage the development of the whole shale gas industry."

Ineos said that those living in a shale gas community of approximately 100 km2 in size would typically benefit from the output of 200 wells and split £375 million.
“Giving six per cent of revenues to those directly above shale gas wells means the rewards are fairly shared by everyone. It’s what they do in the USA and we think it is right to do this here. It democratises the shale gas revolution," said Ratcliffe.