Welcome to Drill Or Drop?, the new-look successor to Investigating Balcombe And Cuadrilla.

This site publishes independent, evidence-based journalism about the onshore oil and gas business in the UK and the campaign against it.

The name
is named after the “drill or drop” clause in petroleum exploration and development licences, which requires an operator to drill a well within a certain length of time or give up the licence area.

We’ll be asking whether the UK should drill – “go all out for shale” (and other sources of hydrocarbons) as David Cameron believes. Or should we drop the idea because it carries too great a risk to climate change, environmental damage and an industrialised countryside, as many campaigners believe.

The content
will chronicle the events of the onshore oil and gas industry across the UK. We’ll follow the regulators, political decision-makers, legal developments and the opposition campaign. We’ll be looking behind the headlines to investigate what is driving the industry and the campaign against it.

DrillOrDrop.com will take a particular interest in any plans to develop oil fields in southern England and the reactions of communities to these plans. But we’ll be also making links with investigators in north-west England to bring good quality journalism from that region too.

P1020902The authors
The main author is Ruth Hayhurst, an independent investigative journalist with 30 years’ experience, specialising in environment, energy and local government. Ruth takes no money or support from industry, local authorities, regulators or environmental campaign organisations. Profile here

Other journalists, researchers and writers also contribute to this site.

Pictures in the site header are by Ruth Hayhurst and David Burr:  d.burr69@btinternet.com

The site
Regular posts appear on the Blog tab on the menu bar. To find links to posts on subjects that interest you, use the menu tabs for Industry, Legal, Opposition, Politics, Regulation, and Southern England.

Daily Headlines has an at-a-glance digest of the month’s news. You can also find links here to the news digest for previous months.

Finding the site
You can still use www.InvestigatingBalcombeAndCuadrilla.com to reach the new site or the new address www.DrillOrDrop.com

We’ll continue to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Groups to tell you know when there’s a new post.

We hope you like the new site and please let us know what you think. You can get in touch by using the contact page, comment on the posts or tweet @ruthhayhurst

I look forward to hearing from you.



  1. Rod Jago

    The Times 23/9/14. ” Fracking “greener than solar panels” “—– professors at the University of Manchester found that metals used to produce solar panels and wind turbines give them a ‘human toxicity’ rating at least three times greater than for shale”
    Comments welcome!

    • Ruth Hayhurst

      Hi Thanks for your comment and for mentioning this interesting report. I’ve covered it twice in the Daily Headlines section of the blog – see 13th and 22nd September for more details if you’re interested.

    • Ruth Hayhurst

      I thought you might be interested in this too – it’s a review by Greenpeace of evidence on methane leaks from shale gas processes. http://bit.ly/ZcNNfA
      It includes the upward revision of the global warming potential of methane, which Greenpeace suggests the Manchester University report did take into account.

      • Ruth Hayhurst

        The Guardian did a fact check on the Times piece yesterday and included comments from one of the co-authors. Here’s a selection and there’s more at http://bit.ly/1ptr2sO

        Study author respond to Times report
        The Times article was “misleading”, says study co-author Laurence Stamford. Particularly the headline, which placed the words “greener than solar panels” in quotation marks.

        “That makes it look like we are saying that solar panels are all around worse than shale gas, which… is not really what we’ve said. We are certainly not trying to say that shale gas is greener than renewables.”

        He says it would be more accurate to say:

        “For certain environmental problems shale is better than solar, whereas for others solar is better than shale.”

        “Each option has good points and bad points”, says Stamford. The study never attempted to draw a distinction of which energy source was more ‘green’, partly, he says, because this would involve a value judgement about which impacts we preferred to avoid.

        He said that this type of analysis did not only have to rely on judgement, it could be made empirically. This would involve comparing how much pollution was caused compared to the national total. For example, he said, you might find that if the UK’s fracking industry was only small, then its greenhouse gas impact would also remain minor. But such a compasiron was not the purpose of his team’s research.

        “What we have not done is to work out whether those environmental impacts are particularly significant in a wider context. We can certainly say that one option is better than another for each impact. But we can’t say than it is generally greener.”

  2. Ken Wilkinson

    This site is supposed to be independent but seems to be just a front for anti fracking alas. There is a load of good science out there that is not being reported. For instance no mention of landmark studies by PNAS on methane and frack fluids http://www.pnas.org/content/108/20/8172.abstract?sid=bde9ad0a-b32e-4210-92c3-cfff2f4a7c58|PNAS and no mention of the raft of regulation from the Govt. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/about-shale-gas-and-hydraulic-fracturing-fracking If you are wanting to be balanced, could I suggest a look at http://frackland.blogspot.co.uk/ or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing_in_the_United_Kingdom which I mainly edit. They may provide some useful information and its all referenced. I have tried hard to be fair in what I have written, but so many of the claims of people against shale/oil are basing arguments on false science, practices that are illegal here, or problems from the largely unregulated US that many have spent a long time here avoiding. I worked for 12 years as a senior (District) wireline engineer for 12 years some time ago, and have some understanding of many aspects of this industry we all rely on (whether we like to or not, and whether this is along term solution is not the point here). We are going to be using gas for many years, as we move into a transition economy and at present we are burning huge amounts of coal. Now I hope you agree that is not a good thing!

    • Ruth Hayhurst

      Dear Ken
      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to write and look forward to reading your work. Your experience will be very useful to people trying to understand this industry, which as you say, we all rely on.
      I did mention the landmark study by PNAS you refer to: See http://wp.me/p3OyVh-16J (spool down to September 15th for summary and links). There is coverage in the Daily Headlines of scientific reports as they are released. I have also included the government material you mentioned, as well as many other pro-shale reports (http://wp.me/P3OyVh-7s)
      It is very hard to represent the many sides of this debate fairly. One of the biggest problems is a reluctance by the industry to talk. To give you a few examples: the PR agency representing a drilling company usually takes three-four weeks to respond to questions or refuses to comment. I have been waiting a week for a response from the main regulator about reported problems at a drilling site. Four staff at the PR company which represents a trade body have read the questions I have submitted but no one has yet responded.
      My objective is to cover this subject as consistently and independently as I can, despite these difficulties. Feedback is always useful. So thanks again for your comment.

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