We can all rely on tax dodging billionaire, and Ineos Chairman, Jim Ratcliffe for bribes and false promises; together with a dirty PR campaign by his company in response to Scotland’s moratorium, which is currently in deliberation. Chemicals company Ineos was awarded fracking licences to drill in large parts of Central Scotland but it’s plans came to a halt when the Scottish government announced a moratorium on fracking on 28th January 2015. We do not expect the moratorium to deter Ineos from their ambition to frack Scotland.
When Ineos was awarded licenses to frack in November 2014, Ratcliffe delivered false promises that 6% of any potential profits would go to local communities and councils. It is uncertain that operators can generate profit from fracking considering the small amount of gas produced per well and the plummeting oil price which has dropped to around $55 per barrel. Depending on site structure, fracking companies need prices of between $60 (£40) and $100 per barrel of oil to break even.
The company now suggests Scotland cannot survive without fracking even though Scotland’s renewable industry is flourishing. But Ineos’s track-record suggests it will disregard the public interest in favor of profits; assuming that operators can profit from fracking at all.
There are reports that Ratcliffe moved his business to Switzerland when HMRC refused his request to avoid paying a £350 million VAT receipt. We cannot trust Ratcliffe’s promises to financially reward this country as they show contempt for the British public, especially coming from a billionaire who decided to dodge his tax responsibilities during the heart of the recession. Any promises he makes during the public consultation should be scrutinised carefully. How can local people be expected to believe pledges like sharing potential profits, when the company will not even honour its legal requirement?
Interviewed in the Daily Telegraph after the decision to up sticks, Ratcliffe laughed off the decision to avoid paying his fair share of tax in Britain. He said “We didn’t do it out of spite,” explaining that the decision was the best course of action for his profits. Ratcliffe is clearly a man who will abandon Britain if things go wrong or he does not get his own way.
The Ineos business model is to expand fast by relying on substantial loans from banks, including the bailed out Lloyds and RBS. It has also used banking facilities from HSBC, infamous for its connections to drug money laundering and tax evasion.Ratcliffe’s company has effectively been bank-rolled from the proceeds of tax-payer funded bailouts and tax evasion.
Ineos Upstream are the subsidiary which has acquired a fracking licence that covers 329 square kilometres of Central Scotland. These plans were halted by Scotland’s government, when it called the moratorium.
Gary Haywood, CEO of Ineos Upstream has made claims that they have an “exemplary safety and environmental record”. But these assertions are contradicted by a series of spills, explosions, fires and other serious emergency incidents in Ineos-owned factories, refineries and chemical plants.
In September last year, a gas leak at Ineos’s Grangemouth Refinery, Scotland sparked a major emergency alert. Unite accused the chemical company of ‘unacceptable’ cuts to the number of safety specialists on site. That same month, there was an explosion at a German Ineos chemical plant, blowing smoke over the town of Worringer.
Closer to home, Runcorn-based Ineos company Chlor Vinyls admitted to dumping caustic soda into Manchester’s ship canal in early 2014. In the same town, workers of the Viridor’s Energy-from-Waste plant, a joint venture that includes Ineos, have been hospitalised from two chemical spill incidents.
In other incidents, Ineos have also polluted the River Forth in summer 2007, caused workers burns in 2006, both again at Grangemouth; and caused a toxic cloud over Cologne, Germany, after a fire in 2008.Ineos’ health and environmental record seems more like an exemplary record of health and safety failure.
The business approach of Ineos was deeply criticised during its dispute with workers at its Grangemouth Refinary in 2013. Scottish commentator Robin McAlpine details how the company acted like a ‘psychopath’, to force its workers to accept reduced pay and conditions.
The approach of Ratcliffe at Grangemouth shows how he has already held Scotland to ransom. The country should focus on increasing its already budding green industry, which can guarantee a prosperous and healthy future without fracking.