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The Red Line

Plotting an American-style fracking revolution in Britain

The U.S. is surging into global leadership in petroleum production, surpassing Saudi Arabia. At the same time, America’s greenhouse-gas emissions are declining and U.S. energy costs are the envy of the industrialized world. These astonishing developments have been made possible by the U.S.-pioneered techniques of horizontal drilling and hydraulic-fracturing, better known as “fracking.”

James Ratcliffe, the British billionaire and CEO of the European petrochemical giant Ineos, has taken notice. He wants to launch fracking in the United Kingdom with his company in the lead. Last month Mr. Ratcliffe announced a bold offer to his countrymen: Ineos will pay 4% royalties to landowners plus 2% royalties to municipalities on fracking revenue, far more than currently offered by developers. Mr. Ratcliffe means to spark an American-style fracking revolution.

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