Chemicals firm Ineos to invest $1 billion in shale gas exploration in Britain

Chemicals firm Ineos has announced plans to invest 640 million pounds ($1 billion) in shale gas exploration in Britain.

The company is applying for more licenses to expand its operations in Scotland and in northern England.

Chairman Jim Ratcliffe says he wants the company to become the biggest player in the industry in the country. He said Thursday he believes shale gas could revolutionize British manufacturing, and that Ineos has the resources and skills to extract the gas safely.

Shale gas is extracted through a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves pumping water and chemicals at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas.

Environmental groups criticized the announcement, with Greenpeace U.K. saying the move was a speculative bet on "unproven and risky resources."