Ineos Buys Engie UK Fracking Licenses

10.03.2017 -

Ineos Shale said it has completed the acquisition of the entire UK onshore petroleum exploration and development license interests of Engie E&P UK, increasing the area covered by its acquired licenses to more than 1.2 million acres. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

In its deal with the UK arm of the French energy group, Ineos has picked up minority stakes in 15 UK exploration licenses, including seven in which it already held an interest. The additional eight complement its existing license interests in Yorkshire, Cheshire and the East Midlands, the Swiss-headquartered group said. In three of the licenses, Ineos is the operator, while other exploration companies, such as IGas Energy with eight and Cuadrilla with four, operate the remainder.

Engie was one of the first major energy groups to become active in the British shale gas industry, in 2013 buying part of a license package held by Dart Energy, now part of IGas. The French group told the news agency Reuters it is pulling out now due to low oil and gas prices.

Despite the hype on the part of the UK government and the fossil fuels industry, to date only one shale gas well has been fracked across the country. Ineos is eager to begin exploration in Scotland’s Central Belt, near its Grangemouth petrochemicals complex; its hands, however, are tied by a Scottish moratorium on Frankfurt, currently in the throes of a public consultation.

The chemical group in the past has said it will concentrate exploration in England until the Scottish question has been settled. Last week, Ineos said it had been told by the county council in Derbyshire, England, that it does not need to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for a proposed exploration site on privately-owned land near Eckington.

Under UK law, the council planning authority said, an environmental permit is not required for underground drilling and investigation, although it is for fracking.  It said an assessment may be needed if Ineos decides to go ahead with fracking. Opponents of shale gas have started a petition to protest any activity at the site.