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Hamish Champ is the editor of PRW. When not doinghis day job he finds time to ride his motorcycle, listen to Deep Purple and take his 12 year-old son to the cinema/park/football/pub...

Would you take up Ineos' 'cash for drilling' offer?

Posted on 30 September 2014

Ineos’ offer to distribute of 6% of the revenues from one of its yet-to-be-developed shale gas drilling operations could be described as a shrewd move.

Going further than the government – which has said it would compensate only those living directly adjacent to a drill rig – Ineos says it will cough up cash for those living in what it calls “shale communities”, those living not just on top of a gas reserve but those near it as well; a 100 sq. km area, I believe.

Ineos, which hopes to start getting shale gas out of the ground within three years, also claimed its activities would benefit from the best practice experience of the US, where there are one million shale gas rigs in action.

Greenpeace and others condemned the company’s cash offer as effectively a bribe, but the Ineos spokesman I talked to yesterday surely had a point when he said “We’re damned if we do [offer money to locals] and we’re damned if we don’t.”

Describing the group’s approach as a “genuine attempt to reach out to shale gas communities” the spokesman said Ineos wanted to share the rewards with those living near – and presumably likely to be impacted by – the goings-on of a shale gas drilling rig.

“A lot of communities will look at this and start to have a dialogue,” he added.

And therein lies the rub: some communities, perhaps in less well-off or inhabited parts of the UK may well be interested in what Ineos is offering.

But a lot of shale gas appears to lie beneath parts of the country inhabited by people who are not desperate for cash and who, in a number of high-profile cases have already mounted objections to shale gas speculators coming into their communities to start plant drilling rigs.

For its part Ineos says there is a lot of “misinformation” surrounding shale gas exploration and this may well be true.

But those harbouring doubts about the technology are unlikely be swayed by what they will see as a backhander to keep schtum.

The country certainly needs to be able to exploit its energy resources, so this is a subject that won’t go away any time soon.

In the meantime it will be interesting to see how much headway Ineos makes with its ‘cash for drilling’ offer.

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