A COMPANY that wants to establish a large-scale fracking industry in Scotland is to attempt to win over sceptical SNP members at the party's annual conference.

Ineos, which owns the Grangemouth refinery, is to take a stand at the Aberdeen event, despite a growing grassroots campaign against unconventional oil and gas developments within nationalist ranks.

It is the latest move by the company in its bid to win acceptance for fracking, as a Scottish Government moratorium remains in place. Further details on a public consultation and further research into fracking are set to be published by ministers next week.

Tom Crotty, a director at Ineos, said: "We have been engaging recently with the public through a series of local meetings, by putting displays up in local shops and other methods.

"The natural extension of that is to do it with the politicians as well, which is why we’re taking a stall at the SNP conference to engage with MPs and MSPs."

During the general election campaign, the SNP produced badges with the 'frack off' slogan on them, which is widely used by those who want to see unconventional oil and gas developments banned, alongside the party logo.

However, the party's position on shale gas remains ambiguous, with energy minister Fergus Ewing failing to rule out allowing it at some point in the future. The issue is likely to be prominent in the forthcoming campaign for next May's Holyrood elections.

A new campaign group, SNP Members Against Unconventional Oil and Gas, was recently established and is hoping to win support for a conference motion calling for the Scottish Government to extend the moratorium to underground coal gasification - a process that sees coal seams ignited underground and gas siphoned off. Its longer term aim is to see unconventional oil and gas extraction banned entirely.

It said it was "delighted" that Ineos would be setting up shop at the party conference, saying it would give members the chance to "discuss their concerns with the company's PR people directly and to challenge their ideas."

Scottish Conservative energy spokesman Murdo Fraser said: "Nationalists are well used to turning up at other parties’ conference to protest – but this will be the first time they do it at their own.

"The poor conference delegates will be even more confused about their party’s stance on fracking – for, against, or holding both views at the same time.

"It will be very interesting to see how some of the rank-and-file cope with the idea of fracking being promoted under their noses. Of course, Ineos is quite right to promote this form of energy exploration, which could provide significant boosts to the Scottish economy. And it will also put Nicola Sturgeon under pressure to reveal what the Scottish Government’s attitude on shale really is."