SNP ministers will snub a landmark event to celebrate the arrival of fracking gas into Scotland, despite the new supply line from America safeguarding as many as 10,000 jobs.

Chemical giant Ineos has invited a string of senior politicians to witness the first ever shipment of shale gas from the US arrive later this month, in the culmination of a project that has cost £1.5 billion and will secure the future of the crucial Grangemouth industrial complex.

However, the Scottish Government has revealed none of its 23 ministers will go to the event, taking place just a 45 minute drive from Holyrood. A spokesman blamed "previous diary commitments".

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The snub was revealed after Ineos tycoon Jim Ratcliffe, who will be present, accused the nationalists of hypocrisy for watching shale gas secure the future of Grangemouth, responsible for 4 per cent of the country's GDP, while slapping a moratorium on fracking in Scotland.

Mr Ratcliffe, who has controversial plans to begin fracking across the central belt but has so far been blocked by the temporary ban, also claimed fracking would help the country address its huge deficit and boost the economic case for independence.


Alexander Burnett, energy spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: "The Scottish Government should be celebrating this event, not snubbing it in such a childish fashion. Only the SNP could deride something other countries welcome, and has secured jobs and growth for Scotland. It’s time for the SNP to grow up over fracking, and stop needlessly pandering to the green lobby."

New research and a public consultation will be carried out before the Government decides whether to give fracking, which sees water, sand and chemicals pumped deep underground to fracture shale rock and release gas, the go-ahead or not. However, despite SNP ministers once declaring unconventional oil and gas an opportunity for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has hardened her stance in recent months amid vocal opposition to fracking from her party's grassroots.

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With its fracking plans for Scotland on hold, Ineos has designed and built a fleet of eight vessels which will ship shale gas from the US, where the practice is common, to its sites in Europe. It has built the largest shale gas tank in Europe at Grangemouth to store the gas.

The firm has hailed the arrival of the first shale gas into Scotland, on September 27, a "hugely important day" claiming it can be the beginning of a reversal in fortunes for British manufacturing. The ethane provides an essential base ingredient at Grangemouth, which had been functioning at well under capacity due to dwindling North Sea reserves.

HeraldScotland: Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe

Mr Ratcliffe, speaking at an event in New York, said: "Were it not for the fact that we have invested in bringing shale gas across from America, Grangemouth would be closed because there isn't enough gas in the North Sea to continue to operate the Grangemouth petrochemical site.

"So, whether the Scottish politicians like it or not, the shale gas which has come from the US rather than the UK has saved 10,000 jobs in the Falkirk area... There is sort of an element of hypocrisy there, isn't there?"

Addressing fracking and the finances of an independent Scotland, he added: "It just seems rational to me that if it is successful it would clearly generate lots of income and lots of investment in Scotland, and those things have got to be two of the things you have to achieve independence."

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Grassroots SNP anti-fracking group SMAUG said Scotland's energy and industrial future lay in renewables, rather than the "dirty, dangerous hydrocarbons" it said fracking produced.

A spokesman added: "Our vision for Scottish independence is driven by a desire to live in a country that is more prosperous, greener and fairer. We no longer want to live in country whose wealth is controlled by a few rich men in their tax havens, who seek to enrich themselves further and will say anything to achieve this."