Chemicals giant Ineos has bought a 51% share in a licence to explore for shale gas in Scotland.
Purchased from BG Group, the licence covers 329 square kilometres of the Midland Valley of Scotland, which includes Ineos’ Grangemouth refining and petrochemical plant and the area around it.
The company was last month promised a £230 million loan guarantee by the UK Government to build a storage facility at Grangemouth to allow it to import shale gas from the US.
Gary Haywood, CEO of INEOS Upstream said this is a “logical next step” for the company.
He added: “Over the last year, INEOS Upstream has been drawing together a team of experts in the sector, including a number of leading shale exploration and development specialists from the US. This expertise gives us the perfect platform to move into onshore exploration.”
The other 49% share of the shale gas licence is owned by exploration firm Dart Energy.
The announcement came as campaigners staged protests across the country for a day of action against fracking in the UK.