Petrochemical company Ineos has snapped up a second licence for shale exploration, just two months after acquiring land at Grangemouth.
The acquisition means the company now has an 80% interest in a petroleum exploration and development licence for PEDL 162, which covers a 400 km2 area of the Scottish central belt.
Ineos already owns a 51% stake of the shale layer next to it in PEDL 133, which includes a refining and petrochemical complex at Grangemouth.
As part of the deal, the company will takeover operatorship of the licence and will fund the initial appraisal activity, which consists of two vertical science wells and 100 km2 of 3D seismic.
Ineos Upstream chief executive officer, Gary Haywood, said:”I am delighted to have concluded this deal in Scotland, which is a very good fit with our existing licence interest in the adjoining PEDL 133.
“We are keen to move quickly to evaluate the potential of this resource, and determine if we can economically produce gas from this area.
“If we can, it will provide a local source of competitive energy and raw materials to support manufacturing jobs in Scotland.
“Our recent commitment to share the benefits of the gas production with the landowners and the community will also bring significant local benefits.”
Ineos Upstream is the company’s new oil and gas exploration and production business.
The firm made its first move into shale exploration in August with the purchase of PEDL 133, which includes its refining and petrochemical complex at Grangemouth.
The area is being used to import shale gas ethane from the US, where a vast amount of unconventional gas has been extracted using the process of fracking.
Significant shale gas and oil resources have been identified by the British Geological Survey (BGS) in the Midland Valley of Scotland.
Specialists from Mitchell Energy, the company credited with perfecting shale gas extraction in the USA, are now working with Ineos in the UK.
Nick Steinsburger, Kent Bowker and Dan Steward have been working in shale gas extraction since the 1980s.
The deal is now subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to be completed within the next few weeks.