The tanker JS Ineos Insight, owned by the chemicals multinational Ineos, arrived in Scotland today, marking Britain’s first shale gas import from the United States.
The arrival will spark debate on the country’s manufacturing future and Scotland’s opposition to shale gas fracking.
Ineos is importing ethane, obtained from rocks fractured at high pressure – or “fracking” – in a foretaste of larger deliveries of liquefied natural gas from shale set to reach Europe in 2018.
The company chairman Jim Ratcliffe, one of Britain’s richest men, argues that as the North Sea is unable to keep supplying the base ingredients to make chemicals, shale gas will be an important future energy resource.
“There simply is insufficient raw material [oil and gas] coming out of the North Sea to run Grangemouth so we’re talking about 10,000 jobs in total that depend on that facility,” Mr Ratcliffe told BBC Radio Scotland.
“So were it not for the shale gas that we’re bringing in from the US, Grangemouth would have closed three years ago,” he said referring to the petrochemicals hub to the west of Edinburgh.