An at-a-glance view of May’s news about fracking and onshore oil and gas. For the current month’s news click here
The Times reports that Cuadrilla has threatened to pull out of Britain unless the law is changed to allow it to drill under people’s homes without permission. In an interview with the paper, chief executive, Francis Egan, said the fracking industry would be unable to proceed if it had to negotiate access with the owners of every piece of land under which it wanted to extract gas or oil.
Greenpeace dismissed the warning as a “ransom note”, according to ITV news. It quotes campaigner Simon Clydesdale as saying “Ministers are bending over backwards and cutting corners to satisfy the fracking lobby’s every wish. Paying off the fracking industry’s ransom note in this way will come at a huge political cost for coalition MPs.”
The Manchester Evening News reports that a teenager charged with obstructing police at the Barton Moss protest has had her case dropped by prosecutors. The 15-year-old was arrested while researching a school project about the protests outside the IGas site. Her solicitor described the arrest and charge as “abhorrent”, the paper says.
IGas Energy Plc releases a statement that is acquisition of Dart Energy Ltd is proceeding as planned. A meeting of IGas shareholders to approve the deal is expected to be held in late August 2014.
Ecotricity funds Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association bid for judicial review of planning permission to test Cuadrilla’s oil exploration well. More details
Cuadrilla Resources submits a planning application to drill, hydraulic fracture and test gas flows from up to four wells at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire. The Times reports this will be the first time application to frack since the 2010 earthquakes caused by fracking at Cuadrilla’s well at Preese Hall. The application and an Environmental Statement, prepared for Cuadrilla by Arup, are expected to be available within the next two weeks. A formal public consultation will then follow. The company says a separate application will be submitted for its site at Roseacre Wood shortly.
Data from Bloomberg shows the rise in shale oil and gas production in the US has coincided with declining investment in wind and solar. Investment in US renewables in 2013 was $56 billion, the lowest since 2010. This compares with $168.2 billion investment in oil and gas exploration and production, more than double the 2009 level.
A report by the Obama administration credits fracking with making the US more energy independent and creating 133,000, according to the New York Post.
240 health professionals and organisations write to Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York State, calling for a formal moratorium on fracking in the state of at least three-five years. Their reasons include problems such as: water contamination, well integrity failure, disposal of waste water, air pollution, community and social impacts and industry secrecy leading to unsettled science.
The European Commission releases the EU energy security strategy with an emphasis on home-produced fossil fuels and more renewables and nuclear. It also calls for:
- Diversifying sources of supply and supply routes
- Increasing energy efficiency and lowering consumption
- Completing the internal energy market and building missing infrastructure links
- Speaking with one voice on external energy policy
- Strengthening emergency mechanisms and protecting critical infrastructure
The Guardian, quotes Franziska Achterberg, energy policy director at Greenpeace: “The commission’s plan will do very little to reduce the EU’s dependence on energy imports. Throwing money at new gas infrastructure to get Europe off Russian gas will not cure the addiction to imported fossil fuels. Europe would still be a junkie desperate for a fix.”
The Telegraph said an EU energy efficiency target would be opposed by the UK government. A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said this could “force EU member states to implement measures that are not cost-effective and have negative consequences for the carbon price”.
A survey of 2,000 people by Harris Interactive for The Guardian finds 48% of respondents would be happy to have an onshore wind farm within five miles of their home. This compares with 20% who would be happy about a new coal fired power station, 27% of a nuclear plant and 19% for a racking rig. According to the survey, 40% of voters say they neither support nor oppose fracking for shale gas in the UK, 8% very much support it and 18% very much oppose it.
The government’s Business Perceptions Survey finds planning and environmental laws are most burdensome to companies. More than half of business questioned about environmental law said it was a burden making contact with the right official. The survey by Jigsaw Research questioned 250 companies about environmental law and 150 about planning.
BBC Humberside reports that a retired director of education for East Riding of Yorkshire Council and his wife were arrested at an anti-fracking protest at Rathlin Energy’s oil exploration site at Walkington. The couple denied public order offences when they appeared at Beverley Magistrates Court.
Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, in a statement to the Lancashire Evening Post, describes the government as astoundingly arrogant over fracking. “They are planning to override our legal and democratic right to object to horizontal drilling beneath our homes by changing the trespass law. They plan to give the drilling companies an automatic right to drill under people’s homes without their permission. They will not be allowed to get away with it.”
Bloomberg reports that US shale companies are struggling to keep pace with the cost of getting oil and gas out of the ground. An analysis of 61 companies shows shale debt has almost doubled over the last four years while revenue has gained just 5.6 percent.
The Times reports that a survey of shale gas in Scotland will be published before MPs leave Westminster for the summer recess in mid-July.
The Lancashire Evening Post reports that two companies from the north west have joined forces to offer production services to the shale gas sector. Remsol, based in Preston, and Manchester’s Ground Gas Solutions have previously both worked closely with Cuadrilla Resources.
We Need To Talk About Fracking, a new group promoting a national debate on the technology, publishes dates and venues for five city meetings. More details
The Lichfield Mercury reports that Friends of the Earth and local residents staged a “birthday party” outside Cuadrilla’s offices in the town. The paper said the event marked almost three years since the last hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in the UK was called to a halt.
The government publishes the long-awaited report by the British Geological Survey on oil and gas in the Weald. The BGS estimates between 2 and 8.6 billion barrels of oil in the ground but no gas. It makes no estimate on recoverable amounts of oil but suggests extraction may be difficult in places. More details.
The government also announces plans to change the trespass laws to allow companies to drill under land without the owner’s permission. The industry also proposes a one-off £20,000 community compensation payment for lateral wells. More details.
The Hull Daily Mail reports police arrested a man for allegedly using “abusive language in a song” during a demonstration by anti-fracking campaigners in Beverley. The paper says a video posted on the Crawberry Hill Community Protection Camp Facebook group shows footage of the man being arrested by Humberside Police officers at the demonstration. Humberside Police later told the paper a man had been charged with a Section 5 public order offence and would appear at Beverley Magistrates Court on June 11.
Happy Mondays star, Bez, tells MancunianMatters.co.uk that fracking was “the biggest issue we’ve ever faced as a country since World War II”. Bez formed the Reality Party earlier this year and plans to stand for the Salford constituency in the General Election.
Climate News Network reports that 66 chief executives of the world’s leading insurance companies, have called for urgent action on climate change. The call was made through the Geneva Association, an insurance think-tank whose members have assets of nearly US$ 15 trillion. In a climate risk statement issued in Toronto, the chief executives said: “The prospect of extreme climate change and its potentially devastating economic and social consequences are of great concern to the insurance industry.” The group has pledged to market insurance polies aimed at promoting the development of low-carbon energy projects.
ENDS reports that only 29% of the Environment Agency’s staff believe change is managed well at the organisation, currently undergoing restructuring. The survey results were released to ENDS following a Freedom of Information request made in March. Though low, the figure is higher than for DEFRA (23%) or DECC (28%).
A report by scientists at the University of Waterloo, Canada, finds there are leaks from an estimated 10% of all oil and gas wells in British Columbia and 20% of those in Saskatchewan. The problem is potentially a greater threat to health than fracking, the report says. The figures are only estimates, the authors say, because little data is collected or verified. It calls for reforms of monitoring and regulation, particularly of cementing of wellbores.
The Hull Daily Mail reports that about 20 anti-fracking campaigners have set up a camp at Crawberry Hill, outside Beverley – but numbers could grow to more than 500. The paper says the campaigners want an explanation from Rathlin Energy (UK) Ltd about plans for the wells at Crawberry Hill and West Newton, near Aldbrough. Rathlin insists it is not fracking, the paper says, but campaigners are concerned after the Environment Agency granted Mining Waste Permits for both sites.
The European Commission drops plans for legislation on access to environmental justice, says ENDS. The proposal, originally made in 2003, would have implemented part of the Aarhus Convention, which gives citizens access to environmental decisions made by their governments. The Commission had proposed to make acts or omissions by public authorities that are considered to contravene environmental law subject to judicial or administrative review. The UK led opposition to the plans and no agreement could be reached. The Commission will now consider other ways of meeting its obligations under the convention.
The Los Angeles Times reports that US officials are expected to cut estimates of oil in the Monterey Shale Formation in California by 96% in a report due out next month. The paper says the Energy Information Administration is likely to report that 600 million barrels of oil can be extracted with existing technology, far below the 13.7 billion barrels once thought to be recoverable. The earlier estimate, in 2011, was made by an independent firm under contract with the government. It assumed deposits were as easily recoverable as those found in shale formations elsewhere.
Reuters reports that Santa Cruz has become the first county in California to ban fracking. The county does not have oil or gas production but, the news agency says, opponents of fracking called for ban after oil companies began considering using the process in neighbouring San Benito.
The Guardian reports that Happy Mondays are to perform at an all-day music festival at Fleetwood FC’s Highbury Stadium in Lancashire on 1st June in aid of the anti-fracking campaign.
The latest survey by the University of Nottingham on attitudes to fracking shows continuing “Balcombe effect” as support falls to below 50%. More details
Dr Tina Hunter, Director of the Centre for International Minerals and Energy Law, University of Queensland, warns a shale conference in London that rushing ahead with fracking caused social and environmental problems in Australia. More details
Cuadrilla Resources announces it will submit a planning application by the end of the month to Lancashire County Council to drill, frack and test the flow of gas at up to four wells at its site at Preston New Road. The company says it will also submit plans for a network of seismic monitoring stations within 4km of the site. A separate application for Roseacre Wood will be submitted a few weeks later.
The Telegraph reports that IGas plans to offer free home insulation to people living near fracking sites. Bloomberg reports that the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is investigating the health risks of fracking after at least four deaths among oilfield workers since 2010 in North Dakota and Montana.
Caroline Lucas MP tells the FT that fracking has bolstered support for the Green Party. According to a poll by ComRes on Sunday, the Greens are in fourth place, on 7%, ahead of the Liberal Democrats on 6%. This suggests Lib Dem support has halved compared with the last EU elections, the FT says.
Sussex Chief Constable Giles York has defended his force’s policing of last year’s anti-fracking protests at Balcombe. He also revealed Sussex officers have been advising police across Britain in how to deal with demonstrations at fracking sites. More details
The Centre for Public Integrity reports on a couple who after living for 23 years on the South Texas prairie are looking for home because of fumes, traffic and noise from the Eagle Ford shale boom. Lynn Buehring, 58, says “We’re not anti-drilling at all,” she said. “My complaint is they need to do it in a responsible way … It’s just causing me a lot of medical issues, and I can’t have it.” There are 57 oil and gas wells and nine processing plants with 2.5 miles of their home.
EnergyWire reports that people who disclose confidential information about fracking chemicals in North Carolina will be could be charged with a criminal offence under the Energy Modernization Act going through the state Senate.
The Climate Coalition launches an online consultation on fracking in the Sussex Downs. The website says if enough people contribute it could enough to prevent fracking in the South Downs National Park.
Business Green reports a speech by shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint in which she called for an assessment of groundwater methane levels and 12-month monitoring periods before fracking can take place. She accused the government of inflating hype about fracking, and causing entrenched opposition to a shale industry. The speech also said 50 per cent of domestic gas could be supplied by methane from waste by 2030.
The Wall Street Journal carries an Associated Press story that a partnership between oil and gas companies and some environmental groups has accepted its first application for a certification programme. The paper says the programme is aimed at promoting voluntary but tough new standards, in addition to existing government regulations, on drilling in the Marcellus Shale.
The Hull Daily Mail reports two people were arrested at an anti-fracking protest at an exploration site operated by Rathlin Energy (UK) Ltd at Crawberry Hill, near Walkington. The company has received an Environment Agency permit for well testing.
The headline in The Times on a report of Lord Howell’s comments reads “Only frack in Labour seats, pleads Tory peer”. The peer is quoted as saying areas such as the north east and north west where the industrial revolution has “left the worst historical scars would welcome drilling for shale gas”.
CBS News reports that scientists in Ohio have made a link between fracking and earthquakes in the area.
Bloomberg reports that Celtique Energie does not expect to begin drilling at Fernhurst until summer 2014. The company does not yet have planning permission. Its application to the South Downs National Park Authority does not include fracking and no longer includes a horizontal well.
Barry and District News reports Labour members of the Welsh Assembly voted down an amendment calling for new technical advice to councils on how to handle planning applications for hydraulic fracturing. The paper says Conservative AMs have called for clarification of national guidance to local authorities to ensure consistency in handling applications.
The Greek presidency of the EU says member states remain divided over Europe’s climate and energy policy for 2030, as reported by ENDS (16/5/14). Some states have “major reservations” about setting targets, including the 40% reduction of CO2 proposed by the commission in January. Others, including the UK, are prepared to accept the proposal, while a third, including Greece, believes the proposal isn’t ambitious enough.
13/5/14 Shale Gas World conference opens at the NEC. See blog for reports today and tomorrow
Lord Howell, George Osborne’s father-in-law, tells the Journal of Energy Security, the Government’s drive for fracking is losing the Tories thousands of votes. He said the Coalition’s strategy for shale gas was “seriously flawed” and could prove “extremely dangerous politically”. He warned: “Every time ministers open their mouths to claim that fracking must start everywhere around Britain, and not just in carefully selected and remote (derelict) areas, they lose thousands of Tory votes.” He caused controversy last year by suggesting should take place in “desolate” parts of the north.
Department for Energy and Climate Change publishes its response to a Freedom of Information request for any correspondence with Salford Council about unconventional gas drilling by IGas at Barton Moss. DECC said it did not “hold any information within scope [sic] of your request.”
The Croydon Guardian reports that Green Party MP Caroline Lucas joins protest against fracking in Croydon and Sutton. Northdown Energy Ltd has a licence to drill for oil or gas in an area covering parts of Croydon, Sutton, Bromley and Kent. This is the only licence of its type granted within the M25, the paper says.
Rigzone reports that democrats in the New York State senate introduced legislation for a moratorium on the disposal of fluids used in hydraulic fracturing that occurs outside the state.
Cuadrilla’s Francis Egan tells The Telegraph shale gas could be fuelling British homes for the first time by the late 2015. The company if its planning applications in Lancashire are successful it will connect test fracking sites to the gas grid. Asked whether owners should be paid compensation for fracking beneath their land, he said “I don’t think there’s any disturbance. If someone flies two miles above your house, do you get compensation?”
The Telegraph also reports Sam Laidlaw, chief executive of Centrica, as saying national parks are “not the place to start” fracking for shale gas. Mr Laidlaw said “The whole ethos is around being sensitive to local communities. I think we would think very hard about an area that was a national park… It’s probably not the place to start.” The Financial Times reports 200 anti-fracking and fuel poverty campaigners protested outside Centrica’s annual meeting.
The Financial Post reports that Egdon Resources, with 27 exploration and production licences across Britain and France, is in advanced talks to acquire Alkane Energy. Alkane, the site says, operates mid-sized gas-to-power generators using fugitive methane emissions from abandoned coal mines and exploration interests in the Bowland Basin.
A report by Associated Press, carried by the Bismark Tribune, says an oil well near Tioga, North Dakota has been leaked oil, gas and fracking fluid since 9th May. The state’s Department of Mineral Resources is quoted as saying the well is covered by a confidentiality agreement and so it can disclose only the name of the well (Ron Burgundy 3-23-14H), its general location, the owner (Emerald Oil of Denver) and that a spill had occurred.
A blog by John Broderick, of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, says the House of Lords report on shale gas flies in the face of evidence about the impact on climate change:
- Climate responds to cumulative emissions, not emissions in a given year, technology or nation
- Citing shale gas’s lower emissions intensity as beneficial assumes that an alternative more carbon intensive fuel remains underground, demand does not outpace the carbon intensity savings and the development of low or zero-carbon energy systems are not jeopardised.
- There is a discrepancy between UK domestic carbon budgets and our international commitments.
RepowerBalcombe films a piece for BBC 1’s The One Show
Balcombe resident, Helen Savage, in a letter to the Mid Sussex Times, criticises the decision by West Sussex County Council’s planning committee to approve Cuadrilla’s planning permission. She writes: It is a sad day for democracy when the committee, like every other body involved in this process from the EA to the DECC, dismisses some of the most serious concerns as ‘not in their remit’.”
The Sunday Times predicts that National Parks, cities and urban commons will be among the areas included in the next round of onshore oil and gas licenses to be announced by the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
The Guardian carries a report by Associated Press that the US failed to inspect thousands of at-risk oil and gas wells. Investigators from the Government Accountability Office highlight substantial gaps in oversight by the agency that manages oil and gas development. The Bureau of Land Management is accused of failing to inspect more than 2,100 of the 3,702 wells it had specified as “high priority”.
The Worthing Herald reports anti-fracking campaigners handed out leaflets outside the town’s railway station and urged people to sign a petition against fracking in Sussex.
The FT reports IGas Energy, the company that carried out exploratory drilling at Barton Moss, has bought Dart Energy. The deal gives the new company licence areas covering one million acres, three times the size of Cuadrilla Resources. Andrew Austin, IGas chief executive, said the company would drill in the east Midlands and north west England over the next 12 months.
Ohio.com reports a clean-up operation is underway after the leak of drilling mud from a well in Morgan County, Ohio. A spokesperson for the state Environmental Protection Agency is quoted saying about 1,600 gallons leaked into a creek that is a tributary of the Muskingum River (which eventually leads to the Ohio River). The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says the operator, PDC Energy, had drilled vertically to 8,600 ft and turned to drill horizontal about 1,200ft when drilling liquid gushed to the surface.
Bloomberg reports the US Environmental Protection Agency is considering rules requiring oilfield service companies to send it details on the health and safety of chemicals used.
The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee in its report The economic impact on UK Energy Policy of Shale Gas and Oil says shale gas exploration and development should be recognised as an urgent national priority. The report strongly supports the government’s objective to exploit shale gas but says believes the government should “do much more to encourage exploration and get development moving”. The report recommends:
- A cabinet committee, chaired by the chancellor to “ensure that his commitment to ‘go all out for shale’ is matched by action”
- Streamlining of regulations
- Better engagement of the industry with communities
- Reassurance by government that, with proper regulation, health risks are low
Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, which gave evidence to the committee, said the report showed the Lords were “remote and out of touch”. The group said: “Their blinkered and short- sighted attitude is doing a grave disservice to our communities, and ignores the huge groundswell of objections and concerns from ordinary citizens across the UK who are doing their own research and coming to very different conclusions.”
Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace UK, told The Guardian: “The Lords spent seven months cherry-picking the wafer-thin evidence that fits a foregone conclusion about the benefits of shale gas. This is just more taxpayer-funded cheerleading from unelected politicians who seem all too happy to ignore the country’s legitimate concerns about fracking.”
The Extra reports the Scottish Parliament rejected a call by the Green Party for a ban on fracking and other unconventional gas developments.
The Courier reported that the Green Party argued against fracking, in order to “protect communities, safeguard local environments and focus investment on renewable energy”.
Reuters reports that Beverly Hills City council voted (6th May) to ban fracking – the first municipality in California to take this decision. It takes effect on June 6th. No company is reported to have put forward fracking proposal but the technique is used elsewhere in Los Angeles County.
Robert Howarth and Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell University tell reporters (as reported by Bloomberg) the US Environmental Protection Agency has underestimated the amount and potency of methane emissions from fracking. They say the Obama administration’s focus on natural gas won’t provide the emissions reductions necessary to address the impacts of climate change.
A policy briefing by researchers at Newcastle University warned that power stations could be shut down or forced to reduce production in future if there is not enough water to keep them running safely. The briefing, based on a paper in the March issue of Global Environmental Change, is reported by ENDS on 12th May.
The Advertising Standards Authority announces that a complaint against a document by Frack Free Somerset had been resolved informally. The ASA says the organisation has agreed to amend or withdraw material without the need for a formal investigation.
A poll by YouGov and commissioned by Greenpeace found 74% of people questioned opposed any move to allow drilling by shale gas companies under private land without permission. The proposal, expected to be part of the government’s Infrastructure Bill, was supported by 13% of the people surveyed.13% were undecided. According to the survey, potential Labour voters are more likely to be opposed, followed by UKIP (77%), Conservative (73%) and Lib Dem.
The Manchester Evening News reports that Happy Monday’s star, Bez, has asked Prince Charles to back his campaign against fracking.
The FT reports that a coalition of environmental groups, including RSPB, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Wildlife Trusts, have written to David Cameron criticising plans to allow fracking companies to drill under homes without the owners’ permission. They say “The rush to change property rights will further erode public trust in the government’s approach to fracking,”
Paul Mobbs, writing for The Ecologist, accuses Public Health England of gross scientific misconduct for its “apparently deliberate whitewashing of the public health impacts of fracking.” The organisation concluded in its report The Health Impacts of Shale Gas” that there was a “low risk to public health from direct releases of chemicals and radioactive material if shale gas extraction is properly operated and regulated”. Paul Mobbs says “The difficulty for PHE is that there is no rational way in which this conclusion could be drawn from the evidence they reviewed in their report”.
International Business Times reports comments at the G7 meeting of energy ministers by the German Minister, Sigmar Gabriel. He says Europe will remain dependent on Russian energy for the foreseeable future because the Americans “won’t be in a position to export their shale gas until the end of the decade”.
Energy Minister, Michael Fallon, tells Bloomberg technology could unlock shale resources in Europe and help wean the continent off Russian gas. He was speaking from Houston at the Offshore Technology Conference.
The Guardian, among others, reports on the 840-page US National Climate Assessment which says climate change is already disrupting the lives of Americans and much more strongly than scientists had expected.
The FT reports that two of the UK’s biggest engineering companies, Weir and Rolls Royce, are to work together to develop a purpose-built power system for hydraulic fracturing. The system will combine the frack pump, engine and transmission and aims to make the companies the one-stop shop for fracking operators.
The Irish Times reports that Ireland’s Minister of State for Energy, Fergus O’Dowd, says a study by the Environmental Protection Agency on fracking will potentially be published in 2016. He said until the study is finished “there is absolutely no way we will consider any new application or fracking will commence.”
The City Council of Denton, Texas, extended its moratorium on oil and gas drilling permits until September. The extension will allow the city to amend its rules on drilling for gas to include giving note of fracking activities to landowners, and requiring companies to pay a bond and provide a certificate of insurance. More at Norton Rose Fullbright’s hydraulic fracturing blog.
An interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme with Energy Secretary Ed Davey on reducing gas dependence on Russia makes no mention UK shale gas. Mr Davey tells Sarah Montague the UK’s climate change policy of investing in renewables and reducing demand through energy efficiency should be adopted throughout Europe.
Mr Davey’s deputy, Michael Fallon, tells Reuters European countries should make a push to start producing shale gas if they hope to reduce reliance on Russian natural gas. He says: “In five years’ time I certainly hope we will be in the production phase”.
The Washington Times reports a White House press briefing where presidential adviser, John Podesta, said increases in oil and gas extraction, made possible by fracking, were helping to reduce carbon emissions. March was the sixth successive month in which the US produced more oil than it imported.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the House of Lords Economic Affairs committee is expected to report this week that Britain’s fracking industry is being held back by environmental regulations drawn up in Brussels. The paper says, a report by the committee is expected to call for permits to be granted more quickly to allow drilling companies to test the potential for shale gas wells.
The Daily Telegraph also reports that Cuadrilla has donated £10,000 to refurbish the bar at the Lowther Pavilion theatre near Blackpool on Lancashire’s Fylde coast, months before submitting two planning applications to frack in the area.
Financial Times columnist, Nick Butler, says recent advance by US scientists suggest major breakthroughs in energy storage are close and this could transform the economics of the energy industry. He says the advances include: Metal free batteries using quinone molecules, which could be linked to solar panels to store and then release energy when needed. Another advance uses azobenzenes, which can switch between absorbing and releasing solar energy.
Launch of Facebook page Shale Gas World Exhibition – Fracking Madness
A property consultant, interviewed in the Western Daily Press, warns landowners to get legal advice if asked to lease their land to fracking companies. Thomas Ireland, of Carter Jonas, tells the paper, income paid to landowners for a well head is likely to be “quite limited” – in the low tens of thousands a year.
The Manchester Evening News reports that TESLA Exploration International has told councils in the Greater Manchester region it wants to carry out 3-d seismic surveys in Salford, Trafford, Wigan and parts of Warrington, on behalf of IGas. The paper says the work would analyse potential reserves of shale gas and coal bed methane.
Eaglefordtexas.com reports that homes in Morgan County, Ohio, have been evacuated following the leak of drilling fluids from an oil well into a creek. The well was being drilled by PDC Energy of Colorado.
Norton Rose Fulbright’s hydraulic fracking blog says shareholders are calling for ExxonMobil, EOG Resources, Occidental Petroleum and Pioneer Resources to disclose their hydraulic fracturing risk assessments. The blog says the investors include the Sisters of St Francis of Philadelphia, which argue Chevron has not provided investors with enough information to allow them to assess the company’s exposure to risk.
An opinion piece in Deutsche Welle suggests gas exports may not be as significant to Russia as has been suggested. Henrik Böhme writes that some experts believe gas accounts for only about eight percent of income from all Russian exports of goods.
The US Department of Transportation announces that three oil and gas companies have voluntarily provided testing data on crude oil they ship from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. This was in response to the department’s call in January to companies to improve accident prevention and mitigation. More at the Hydraulic Fracking blog
Simon Welsh, the only Balcombe resident arrested at last year’s anti-fracking protests, is acquitted. He was accused of failing to comply with conditions imposed on campaigners by police on September 10th. His acquittal means all the campaigners charged under the Public Order Act have been found not guilty.
Balcombe resident, Helen Savage, writes to the West Sussex County Times describing the decision to give Cuadrilla planning permission to test its well in the village as “sad day for democracy”. She says: “It shows a ridiculous lack of foresight, when an exploration company is allowed to have its process considered piecemeal in separate planning applications, without considering the obvious end-game of oil-production close to residents. Thus, each new application is in part validated by the fact that the previous one was approved.”
The ENDS report says funding for the Environment Agency’s regulation of permitted installations (like oil and gas sites) will be cut by 19% for 2014-5, compared with the previous year. In 2015-16 funding will fall by 13%. The corporate plan for 2014-16 says the EA wants to take a “business-sector” approach to regulation.
The FT reports that 300+ students at Harvard University blockaded administrative offices in support of their campaign to persuade the institution to sell investments, held by its $33bn endowment, in fossil fuel companies. One student was arrested. This was the latest action in a campaign, launched in 2011, which has already persuaded 11 US colleges to wholly or partially divest from fossil fuels. Harvard’s endowment is the largest of any educational institution in the world.
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