An at-a-glance view of June’s news about fracking and onshore oil and gas. For the current month’s news click here
Climate change minister, Greg Barker, accuses green groups of being foolish and morally disingenuous for supporting fracking. Our report
The Department of Energy and Climate Change confirms earlier suggestions that there is a “modest” amount of shale oil and gas in the Midland Valley of Scotland. A report by the British Geological Survey predicts 80 trillion cubic feet of shale gas and 6 billion barrels of shale oil (central estimates). The report makes clear that these volumes are not necessarily recoverable.
Andrew Aplin, of Durham University, says the predicted amounts of oil and gas in central Scotland are unlikely to make a significant difference to the UK’s dependency on overseas supplies. He says: “The key issue is the proportion of the oil and gas that might be recoverable, which is likely to be low as a result of the complex geology of the region, plus the fact that neither the rocks nor the oil appear to be of optimal quality.”
A study of 41,000 wells in Pennsylvania, published today finds wells that are newer and unconventional leak more often than older, traditional wells. Lead author, Anthony Ingraffea, says the results suggest methane leaks could be a problem for drilling across the US. The drilling industry accused Professor Ingraffea of “playing fast and loose with the facts”. See Seattle Pi for details.
Earth Justice reports that the US Court of Appeal handed down a landmark decision, ruling that New York municipalities have the right to keep fracking out of their borders. The organisation says this is a victory for Dryden and communities across the state.
The Daily Telegraph reports comments by Boris Johnson that there should be a change in the law to give British households ownership of the oil and gas beneath their homes. The paper says the Mayor of London this would give people a commercial interest in supporting fracking. He tells the paper Britain’s hoped-for shale gas revolution has so far been “underwhelming to the point of absurdity”.
The FT reports that government revenue from oil and gas has fallen to its lowest level in 10 years. UK tax receipts for 2013-14 were £4.7bn, the lowest since 2003-4 (£4.2bn).
Fracking should be permitted in National Parks because the visual impact can be limited when the process is done properly, according to the outgoing chair of the Environment Agency, Chris Smith, quoted in The Guardian. He said: “Provided it is done carefully and properly regulated, those fears [of anti-fracking campaigners] are definitely exaggerated.” He also dismissed calls for 100% of electricity produced from renewables, saying the country wasn’t ready to do that.
The Telegraph reports that the expected British Geological Survey report on shale gas in Scotland will be “no game-changer”. The paper says the findings of shale in the central belt of Scotland could be published next week. Sources suggest there will be relatively modest quantities of shale oil and gas, far less than that believed to be in the Bowland Basin of north west England.
Fernhurst villagers told an official from the Department of Energy and Climate Change about their concerns over Celtique Energie’s plans for exploratory drilling, reports the Midhurst and Petworth Observer. The paper says villagers found the meeting, organised by a district councillor, was useful but they still felt there was a weakness in the regulatory regimes.
The Times reports that Hurricane Energy has successfully drilled the first exploration well into granite rock in its Lancaster field, west of the Shetlands. The company is quoted as saying this is a “game-changer” for the UK, proving that oil could be produced from “fractured basement reservoirs”.
Anti-fracking campaigners from Greenpeace occupy the entrance to the South Downs National Park building at Midhurst. The authority decides next month whether to grant planning permission for exploratory drilling in the National Park at Fernhurst. Simon Clydesdale, Greenpeace UK energy campaigner, says: “We need to fight back against companies and authorities who are trying to quite literally undermine the property and rights of people across the South Downs and Sussex, putting both the local environment and the climate at risk, without asking permission.”
Energy Voice reports that Egdon Resources has appointed to its board Neil O’Brien, chief executive of shareholder, Alkane Energy.
The Daily Mail reports that the US is to begin exporting unrefined oil for the first time in nearly 40 years in a move which could lower petrol prices around the world. The paper says two companies have got permission to sell ultralight oil to foreign buyers after intense lobbying by the energy industry.
Natural Gas Europe reports that Denmark will see its first shale gas well after a permit is granted to the Danish unit of TotalSA by Frederikshaven in Jutland.
The Manchester Evening News reports that a court denied protesters the chance to appeal against a possession order granted to Peel Holdings. The Davyhulme community protection camp was set up last week near Barton Bridge, where IGas has applied to extend its planning permission to extract coal bed methane
Cuadrilla’s application to drill and frack at its proposed exploration site at Roseacre Wood LCC/2014/0101 is published today on the Lancashire County Council website. The application contains 88 documents, including a 21-chapter environmental statement.
IGas preliminary results for the year ending 31st March 2014 reports pre-tax profits of £2.3m. This compares with a loss of £6m for the previous year. The company says laboratory analysis of the cores drilled at Barton Moss in Salford are underway and the results are expected in the autumn.
Energy minister Michael Fallon announces shale oil and gas companies will have larger areas to develop in the next round of Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences, due to be sold this summer. He said the new arrangements would remove “unnecessary barriers” and improve flexibility for fracking operators. The new system will, he said, reduce costs to industry but won’t lead to land-banking.
The Minister also announced that operators will have to submit reports about each fracked well and the confidentiality period for this information will be reduced from four years to six months. Mr Fallon also confirms that Labour will support Government plans to change the trespass laws to allow shale gas companies to drill under homes without permission, according to ClickGreen.org The website says the new law will pass unhindered through parliament after the end of a consultation exercise in August.
Durham University’s ReFINE project announces that its research has shown that flowback fluids from shale gas exploitation will contain higher concentrations of radioactive elements than local ground waters. But it said fluxes in flowback fluids predicted for UK shale are not above exposure limits set for human health in the UK. It found fluxes were lower than other discharges even from the non-nuclear sector and lower than those from other energy production including both conventional offshore oil and gas production.
The Blackpool Gazette reports on a fracking information meeting organised by the Environment Agency for residents on Lancashire’s Fylde coast. The paper quotes Steve Molyneux, of the EA, as saying mains water would probably be used if fracking went ahead in the area and drinking water supplies were unlikely to be threatened. But one resident said he was suspicious about any assurances being given.
The Wall Street Journal reports that oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin in Texas and the Niobrara Shale in Colorado contain volatile gases that make them trick to transport and process into fuel. According to the paper, refineries are starting to complain about difficulties handing the oil with existing equipment.
Ends reports comments by Lord Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute, at an Energy Institute conference held today. Lord Stern said government-induced policy risk was a major deterrent to investors, even for green energy, and much greater certainty was needed to attract investment. Ends quotes Lord Stern as also saying that market failures also needed to be addressed, including failure to deal with the true cost of carbon in energy systems, failure of capital markets and lack of investment in transmission networks needed for smart grid development.
The Times reports that increasing oil prices, caused by the crisis in Iraq, could upset Britain’s economic recovery, increase government borrowing, put household finances under pressure and damage global growth. But an editorial in the paper says this is not a “mortal threat”. There is no physical shortage of oil and gas and new technology allows it to be extracted.
The Hull Daily Mail reports anti-fracking campaigners at Rathlin Energy’s Crawberry Hill exploration site have taken out a Section 6 court order allowing them to occupy the gates to the site legally. Rathlin tells the paper the campaigners are “putting lives at risk”. It says it has reported vandalism at the site to Humberside Police. The paper also reports prosecutors have dropped charges under the Public Order Act against campaigner, Darren Nesbitt, due to insufficient evidence (see final paragraphs of story).
The Blackpool Gazette reports the town’s St John’s Square was “awash” with campaigners from Frack Free Lancashire on Saturday. The paper says the group – a coalition of 17 groups from across the Fylde coast, Longridge and Garstang – held a rally to raise awareness of fracking and encourage people to sign a petition against the latest Cuadrilla applications to drill and frack at Roseacre Wood and Little Plumpton.
Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, tells The Business Desk that 2013 was a “year of progress”. During the year, Centrica took a stake in the company’s Lancashire PEDL licence and Cuadrilla drilled a vertical and horizontal well at Balcombe. Mr Egan tells the website: “We remain confident that as stakeholders and the public better understand the proposals and need for shale gas exploration and extraction in the UK, the potential economic and environmental benefits this can offer and how the industry and regulators manage risk, such operations will attract increasing support.”
ClickGreen (and others) report on research suggesting some chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing can disrupt the human body’s reproductive hormones and glucocorticoid and thyroid hormone receptors. The research, by a PhD student at the University of Missouri, was presented at the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society in Chicago.
The Herald Scotland reports that the new planning framework for Scotland will compel operators to consult local people. There will also be buffer zones between fracking sites and communities. Green MSPs say the Scottish Government has not done enough to protect communities worried about fracking, the paper says.
Analysis by Aurora Energy Research, reported in the FT, suggests wholesale electricity prices will fall faster than Whitehall’s models suggest over the next few years – suggesting that subsidies for renewable energy will run out more quickly than previously thought.
Robert Weireter, senior underwriter at Swiss Re, says insurance companies deciding whether to insure fracking operations should first consider the operator’s corporate safety programme, practices and location. The comments, made in a webinar about fracking, are reported by Carrier Management.
Redacted section of report on Sussex Police operation at Balcombe anti-fracking protests turns out not to be redacted after all – and reveals that officers used covert intelligence-gathering. More details
Michael Eavis tells BlueAndGreenTomorrow.com the Glastonbury festival site will remain a frack-free zone.
A letter in today’s Lancet says more UK fracking would be irresponsible without stricter regulation and greater research on the health impacts.
A study of abandoned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania by Princeton researcher, Mary Kang, found they were leaking methane, the Guardian reports. The paper says there is a growing list of studies over the past three years which suggests oil and gas developments, particularly in shale formations are significant sources of methane leaks.
Energy economist, Gurean Gulen, tells the Gulf Coast Power Association cheap gas prices, at $3-$4 per million British thermal units are not sustainable for the drilling industry in the long run. Reuters quotes him as saying: “Most producers in most locations are not going to make the money they need to continue to drill.” Environmental groups reject suggestion that Russia is infiltrating anti-fracking campaigns.
Greenpeace tells Businessgreen.com: “Greenpeace had 30 of its people locked up in Russian prisons last year, threatened with 15 years in jail. The idea we’re puppets of Putin is so preposterous that you have to wonder what they’re smoking over at NATO HQ.” Andrew Pendleton, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth, says: “We’ve consistently urged the government to end our dependence on dirty fossil fuels from abroad by developing Britain’s home-grown renewable energy. Perhaps the Russians are worried about our huge wind and solar potential, and have infiltrated the UK government.”
The Yorkshire Post reports anti-fracking campaigners have blocked the entrance to Rathlin Energy’s gas exploration site at Crawberry Hill. The company tells the paper it is taking legal advice on how to remove the campaigners.
Bloomberg’s analysis of data from BP shows the UK’s use of coal has risen 22% in the past four years and Germany’s has risen 13%. The price of coal for delivery to northwest Europe is down 9% this year at $78.75 a metric ton, nearly the lowest price in five years, according to Bloomberg.
Cuadrilla and its associated companies publish their accounts to Companies House for the year ending 31 December 2013. Details can be viewed for a small fee via the Webcheck database
The outgoing Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, told a Chatham House briefing that Russia is secretly infiltrating anti-fracking groups. According to The Independent he said Moscow is coordinating opposition to fracking in order to promote dependence on Russian oil and gas. Rising Tide, which occupied a Cuadrilla rig in Lancashire, says: “It shows how ludicrously out of touch these people are. He clearly doesn’t know the type of person that has been turning up to demonstrate. There are 60 groups in Frackfree Somerset for example and this includes the Women’s Institute, church groups – we’ve even got a knitting circle.”
Leith Hill Action Group has a setback in its legal battle against Europa Oil and Gas over plans for exploratory drilling. Surrey County Council refused the company planning permission. It appealed but the planning inspector found in the council’s favour. The company then went to the High Court, which supported its argument that the Inspector made the wrong decision. The Court of Appeal backed up the High Court. The decision now rests with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
State Impact (a news service supplied by US public radio stations) reports two former health employees of the Pennsylvania Department of Health were told not to return phone calls from residents who expressed health concerns about shale gas developments. Tammi Stuck, who worked as a community health nurse for 35 years, says calls related to drilling had to be forwarded to a supervisor – but callers said no-one returned their calls.
Friends of the Earth releases a research on efforts by oil and gas companies to drill in Argentina. The organisation says operations are taking place in protected natural areas and at the expense of local communities, workers and the environment.
Groups representing Blackpool’s hotel industry and business leaders join North West Energy Task Force, the town’s Gazette reports. The newspaper says the task force wants to see Lancashire develop its shale gas resources responsibly to provide business opportunities and jobs for local people.
Sussex Police says the review of its operation at last year’s Balcombe anti-fracking protests will help with further demonstrations. The force published the review on its website, after our Freedom of Information requests released the document into the public domain two days before. Details on the report and the police reaction.
A judicial review at Liverpool High Court concluded that a report by experts examining contamination of land at Barton Moss could be presented for the defence at trials arising from anti-fracking protests at the IGas exploratory drilling site in Salford, according to the Salford Star.
The Salford Star also reports that the Crown Prosecution Service has dropped a further 29 criminal cases arising from the IGas protests. This brings to more than 60 the total number of cases that have been discontinued, with only a few convictions.
The FT warns of hype over the shale boom. It reports predictions from the International Energy Agency that the shale boom is set to global, with policy initiatives in countries including Russia, Argentina, Mexico and Canada. But Jan Stuart, head of markets research at Credit Suisse, questions the impact of shale on oil market supply and demand balances because costs are higher outside the US.
A report by Accenture predicts Argentina’s Neuquen basin has the greatest potential for development of shale oil and gas of any country outside North America. In the UK, the report says opposition from non-governmental organisations is they key factor affecting the pace of development.
15 anti-fracking groups from the Fylde area of Lancashire launch Frack Free Lancashire, the Blackpool Gazette reports. The campaign aims to raise awareness about fracking and give local people the opportunity to oppose two new planning by Cuadrilla to drill and frack at its sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.
Kent Online reports that Kent County Council has rejected a grant application to fund a conference about fracking, despite backing from a local councillor. Rosemary Rechter, of East Kent Against Fracking, says the conference aimed to air both sides of the debate. The council said the application was refused because it did not meet the “relevant criteria”.
A report by Barclays predicts oil and gas companies will increase and exploration spending by 6% to $712 billion this year, Reuters reports. Spending by big companies will not increase but smaller, independent companies will drive spending growth in North America, the report suggests.
Anti-fracking campaigners, many from the Barton Moss Camp in Salford, set up a new camp in Davyhulme under Barton Bridge, the Salford Star reports. The land is owned by Peel Holdings and is close to a site where IGas is seeking an extension to its planning permission for coal bed methane extraction. Trafford Council has delayed making a decision until members could attend a technical briefing on coal bed methane extraction. Friends of the Earth has warned the council it faces a legal challenge if grants permission, the Salford Star adds.
Friends of the Earth also challenges comments by Roger Helmer in the Nottingham Post that fracking has been taking place in the UK for decades. The group quotes the Department of Energy and Climate Change as saying high volume hydraulic fracturing has taken place once, at Preese Hall in 2011.
The FT reports BP signs a $20 billion deal to supply liquefied natural gas to China. Under the agreement, which is for 20 years starting in 2019, BP will ship 1.5m tonnes of gas a year for Cnooc, the state-controlled energy group.
Safety.blr.com reports comments by a US safety officer says deaths among oil and gas workers were seven times higher than for general industry. Highest death rates were in small companies. 55% of deaths in the oil and gas industry involved workers with less than one year in the job.
Cuadrilla confirms it has submitted a planning application to Lancashire County Council to drill, frack and test the flow of shale gas at its Roseacre Wood site. The application includes an Environmental Statement and Environmental Impact Assessment. The application will be available for inspection when the council has validated it.
IGas appoints Palantir Solutions to carry out advance rig scheduling, says Digital Journal.
The Welsh Affairs Committee of the House of Commons calls for a reliable estimate of shale gas available in Wales by the end of the year. It urges the Welsh government to consider how employment opportunities of shale gas production should be maximised. The UK government should provide more information about how Welsh local communities would benefit from shale gas operations in their area.
A review by Associated Press finds 4 in 10 new oil and gas wells in high pollution risk areas are not being checked by federal inspectors. Half or more of wells in federal and Indian lands weren’t check in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, the news agency reports. It says the Bureau of Land Management is so overwhelmed by fracking that it cannot keep pace with inspections of the highest priority wells.
The climate economist Lord Stern tells The Independent the financial damage caused by climate change will be considerably greater than current models predict. He says this makes is more important than ever to take urgent and drastic action to reduce carbon emissions.
Unison announces proposals for a national programme of energy efficiency measures to avoid large-scale fracking. The plans aim to bring every UK home up to Band C in the Energy Performance Certificate within 15 years. The union says this will save gas supplies being lost through poor insulation and save customers £300-£600 a year.
The FT reports that US petroleum production has hit a 44-year high. Production, including crude oil and natural gas liquids, was 11.27m barrels a day in April, almost equalling the peak of 11.3 reached as an averaging in 1970. Recent growth rates, the paper says, suggest April’s figure is now being exceeded.
The Telegraph says the potential returns for investors in the UK fracking industry are “mouth-watering” but it is a “long and high-risk road” and the collapse of shale gas prospects in Poland shows how difficult it can be.
The BBC quotes a spokesperson for Cuadrilla as saying work to test the exploratory oil well at Balcombe and construct a flare was “unlikely” to take place this year. Vivienne Westwood tells a debate on fracking in Swansea that the extreme extraction of natural gas would make the earth too hot to live on.
The South Wales Evening Post reports the event was part of a series of debates organised We Need to Talk About Fracking. It was funded by Lush and the charitable foundation Humanade, run by Dame Vivienne’s son, Joe Corre.
Anti-fracking campaigner, Tina Rothery, tells a meeting in Manchester about her involvement in the campaign, reports the Blackpool Gazette. “This is an obligation, particularly for those of us who have birthed a couple of generations, because what we have to leave behind is clean water”, she says. “I can’t walk away, every exit door – my granddaughter’s face is there for me.”
The FT reports German brewers are fighting plans by the country’s government to permit fracking. The paper says Germany’s brewing industry, Europe’s biggest beer producer, is concerned that fracking will taint water supplies.
According to Bloomberg, the chemicals group, Ineos, is considering investing in UK shale gas exploration to secure raw materials. Ineos is the UK’s biggest petrochemical company. Bloomberg says it has a team looking to options, including investment in exploration and production.
Reuters reports China could be producing a third of the shale gas volumes of the US by 2020. Shale could account for a fifth-third of supplies if drillers hit a government target of 60-100 bcm by the end of the decade, the news agency says.
The head of Rathlin Energy tells the Hull Daily Mail denies the company wants to frack in East Yorkshire. David Montagu-Smith, says the company’s exploratory sites at Crawberry Hill and West Newton are conventional oil and gas operations. He says the company drill into the Bowland shale because “it is an important source rock for conventional hydrocarbons”. But he added: “But we were never going to attempt to “frack” the shale, or to produce gas from it, and we have never asked for any of the permissions that would be needed were we to wish to do so.”
Blueandgreentomorrow.com reports that Derby City Council has deferred a decision on whether to make the city a frack-free area and prohibit fracking on council land.
The Derby Telegraph reports the council’s corporate scrutiny board will “investigate the likely environmental impact of fracking within the city.”
Cuadrilla’s latest planning application to frack in the Fylde region of Lancashire is published. More.
The Environment Agency opens a consultation on Cuadrilla Bowland Ltd’s application for permits for its exploratory shale gas site off Preston New Road, Little Plumpton in Lancashire. The company plans to frack up to four wells at the site. The consultation is open until Tuesday 8th July and the EA plans a public information session at Wesham Community Centre on Monday 23rd June from 2.30-7.30pm.
Helen Crow, RSPB’s climate change policy officer says in a blog: “The longer I work on shale gas the more frustrated and disbelieving I am of the steps that are being taken to ease the way for the shale gas industry. I find it hard to fathom why seemingly limitless effort is being poured into helping the fledgling shale gas industry at a time when we’re meant to be making serious inroads into decarbonising UK electricity supply.”
The Chester Chronicle reports that fashion designer, Vivienne Westwood, met anti-fracking campaigners at the camp at Duttons Lane, Upton, on the outskirts of Chester, where Dart Energy wants to explore for coal bed methane.
Dave Vivienne also spoke at the Manchester fracking debate organised by We Need to Talk About Fracking, the Manchester Evening News reports.
Goldman Sachs, reported by Bloomberg, says the US ban on exporting crude oil should stay until domestic refining capacity can no longer absorb increased production. Maintaining the ban will deliver the “highest value” to the US economy, the report says. The ban has been in place since 1975 and allows only export of refined products.
Egdon Resources PLC says it has obtained consent from the Department of Energy and Climate Change to transfer oil and gas exploration licences from Alkane.
Egdon’s managing director, Mark Abbott, tells Oilvoice.com this will double his company’s shale gas acreage in the UK to over 140,000 acres. Alkane held PEDL licences in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, north-west England, south Wales, Staffordshire and Derbyshire. Egdon has interests in southern England and the midlands.
International Energy Agency, quoted by the FT, says Chinese demand for gas is expected to almost double in the next five years as the country aims to use cleaner fuels and improve urban air quality. The paper says China is seeking alternatives to coal for heating and power generation, particularly in northern cities.
The chair and chief executive of Cluff Natural Resources tells the Telegraph there could be huge coal reserves under the Firth of Forth which could provide a new source of gas for power stations and industry. Algy Cluff also questions whether enthusiasm for shale gas will pay off. “I always thought shale was going to engage two enemies, Friends of the Earth and the entire British middle class”, he said.
An editorial in The Washington Post says the environmental risks of fracking are manageable. But this depends on rules limiting air and water pollution and the enforcement of them, the paper says. And it says government regulators must up their game, with inspections of all high-priority wells and a set of updated standards.
A report by the US Energy Information Agency predicts that oil output from the country’s shale regions will rise by 72,000 barrels a day in July compared with this month. The Bakken oil field is expected to increase production by 20,000 barrels a day and the Eagle Ford 24,000 barrels a day. Gas production is predicted to rise by 498 million cubic feet/day.
The Fabian Society launches Pride of Place, a report calling for environmental groups to switch some of their campaign resources from lobbying politicians to supporting community organisations to improve their local environments. The report says people have a strong attachment to the places they live and need to feel they can effect change in their own backyard before they can change the world.
Academics respond in The Guardian to an earlier letter by 50 geoscientists and petroleum engineers who advocated exploiting the shale gas of the Bowland basin in Lancashire. Tim Atkins, of University College London says Richard Selley, one of the signatories of the original letter, has been “trawling the email lists of university earth science departments for months now, sending repeated messages looking for support.” David Smythe, emeritus professor of geophysics, University of Glasgow, says 15 of the 21 university departments to which the original signatories belong receive research funds from the oil industry. Kevin Anderson and John Broderick, of University of Manchester, says the combustion of 10% of the estimated gas resource of the Bowland basin would exceed the entire UK government’s carbon budgets up to 2050.
MPs Caroline Lucas, Hywel Williams, Kelvin Hopkins, Jim Dobbin and Martin Caton sponsor an early day motion on government plans to allow fracking under people’s homes without their consent.
The Centre for Policy Studies tells The Telegraph Britain risks being held economic hostage by Russia unless the country embraces fracking. It says measures to promote fracking are not enough to encourage investment. “Although we should be aware of legitimate concerns over property rights, the Centre’s latest bulletin says, “it is important for the Government to allow a real market in fracking for shale gas to develop both for environmental reasons and for our long-term energy security.”
Vivienne Westwood tells The Independent that her main worry about fracking is that it will lead to the production of more oil which will hasten climate change. “If we carry on like this”, she says, “We’re looking at the mass extinction of the human race within a short time.”
The Telegraph says Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, has blocked prospects for large-scale solar energy farms being built in Britain. Two major projects in Suffolk have been scrapped and future solar farms may never be built, the paper says.
Anti-fracking campaigners held a demonstration on the steps of Burnley Town Hall to raise awareness with councillors, the Burnley Citizen reports. The issue was also raised during public questions at a meeting of the full council. Burnley Council is a consultee on planning decisions on fracking in the area, which are made by Lancashire County Council.
The FT reports predictions by analysts that the cost of plans to cut carbon emissions from US power stations could be surprisingly modest, despite predictions of economic apocalypse.
Centrica’s head of upstream, Mark Hanafin, tells the Telegraph the company “would probably not” bid for more UK fracking licences when they are offered later this year. The company said it was concentrating on exploration in the Bowland basin in Lancashire, where it has a 25% stake in Cuadrilla’s licences. The Telegraph says this suggests the company doesn’t want to bet more money on shale before fracking has taken place to prove whether gas can be extracted.
The Blackpool Gazette reports anger among anti-fracking campaigners in Fylde at a letter to the Guardian from academic geoscientists and petroleum engineers calling for shale gas in the region to be exploited. They say 10% of the gas would be enough to meet existing demand for 25 years. But Pam Foster, of Residents’ Action on Fylde Fracking, said: “The letter was signed by 50 academics. As well as their university positions, some of these individuals also hold directorships, research positions and the like in oil and gas firms. As for the figures from the British Geological Survey, this is pure speculation. Prof Mike Stephenson of the BGS said we may be lucky to get one per cent of gas out of the ground.”
ClickGreen.com reports that the Government’s preferred candidate to replace Lord Chris Smith as chair of the Environment Agency is Philip Dilley. The website says Mr Dilley was, until recently, executive chair of Arup, the global engineering and project management group. Arup helped the oil and gas exploration company, Cuadrilla, prepare its Environmental Impact Assessment and planning applications.
The newly-formed Keep East Lancashire Frack Free demonstrates outside a meeting of Rossendale Borough Council, reports Rossendale Free Press.
The Guardian reports comments by Lord Deben, chair of the Committee on Climate Change that extreme weather events, like the UK’s winter floods, could make global action to tackle climate change more likely. But he warns that greenhouse gas emissions must be cut in the most cost-effective manner to maintain public support. He backed government moves to reduce subsidies for large solar farms and said the focus should be on reducing pollution from the power sector.
Bloomberg reports that US oil and gas companies are giving 83% to Republican Senate and House candidates in this electoral cycle, 11% higher than in 2010, the last election in the middle of a presidential term. Bloomberg says the aim is to give the Republicans a majority in the Senate and counter President Obama’s environmental measures.
Reuters reports comments from Germany’s Environment Minister which suggest the country is not giving a green light to widespread shale gas exploration. On June 3rd, it was announced that new rules would allow fracking for tight gas after a two-year moratorium. But Barbara Hendricks said “According to what was agreed in the coalition deal, unconventional fracking using toxic substances, in particular for shale gas, will be banned.”
The FT reports that Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, has turned down applications to build 10 out of 12 onshore wind farms in the past year. Four of the decisions went against recommendations from planning inspectors, the paper says. It says Mr Pickles has intervened in 39 planning disputes about wind turbines.
Blackpool South MP, Gordon Marsden, told the town’s Gazette newspaper fracking regulations and monitoring must be touch if the technique is to go ahead in the area. He said: “The Government has been acting as cheer leaders for the fracking lobby, but what people want to see is strong reassurances that it is a safe process which will not damage the environment and people’s health and homes.”
The Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency reports that the world could provide energy at a lower cost by doubling the share that comes from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, according to the FT. The paper says the agency is due to present an analysis to the UN today showing the share of provided by renewable energy could double by 2030 if governments promoted it. The leader of the SDLP, Alasdair McDonnell, tells the Belfast Telegraph his party will oppose any attempt to extend to Northern Ireland the Infrastructure Bill’s provisions on oil or gas drilling on private land without permission.
The Beverley Guardian reports that an anti-fracking protester who was banned from the town following his arrest over lyrics in a protest song, has been allowed back to play at a folk festival. Darren Nesbit, 43, had been taking part in the protest at Crawberry Hill. He was arrested last month while busking in the town centre and charged with using threatening words of behaviour. His bail conditions prevented him entering Beverley. But they were relaxed for the period of the folk festival. Mr Nesbit denies the offence.
The TV station for Dallas-Fort Worth, WFAA , reports that tests prove fracking is to blame for contamination of water wells in Parker County, Texas. The Texas Railroad Commission conducted tests on Steve Lipsky’s well, which WFAA says showed methane concentrations were 8.6 milligrams per litre, just under the unacceptable limit of 10. But research by University of Texas measured 83 milligrams per litre. The Railroad Commission said the evidence is insufficient to show where the methane came from. But an earth scientists employed by WFAA said the gas in the well was derived from the Barnett shale formation.
A report by the American Petroleum Institute estimates US schools saved $741 million on electricity costs and $467 million on gas in 2013-13 because of fracking and other unconventional techniques.
The Queen’s Speech, as expected, includes the Infrastructure Bill, which contains measures to change the trespass laws, making it easier for oil and gas companies to drill without asking permission. Reaction
The Telegraph reports anti-fracking campaigners in hard hats and high-visibility jackets turned up at David Cameron’s Oxfordshire home and began sealing off the front gate. They erected a sign which read: We apologise for any inconvenience we may cause while we frack under your home”. The campaigners tried to deliver a cheque for £50, the maximum compensation ministers are willing to pay individual owners to allow companies to drill under their properties.
Energy Voice reports the government faces a strong backlash over the Infrastructure Bill from environmental campaigners and its own supporters.
EurActiv.com reports that EU greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 19.2%, compared with levels in the 1990s. It quotes data from the European Environment Agency that EU emissions dropped 1.3% in 2012, reaching their lowest level ever recorded. 45% of the total EU reduction in 2012 was in Italy. Emissions in the UK and Germany increased because of a rise in solid fuel consumption. The EEA attributes the overall fall to changes in GDP, as well as energy efficiency and uptake of renewable energy. President Obama’s plan to cut emissions by power plants by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 will not be enough for the US to meet an existing national goal, according to Niklas Hoehne, joint compiler of the Climate Action Tracker report, quoted by Reuters. The report suggested overall US emissions would be roughly equal with existing levels in 2030, unless tougher action was taken in sectors from transport to agriculture.
A feature in The Wall Street Journal suggests regulators and communities in the US are beginning to believe that “certain places should simply be off-limits to drilling” by fracking companies. The article says the existing attitude that companies should be able to drill anywhere they have leased mineral rights is starting to weaken as the “fracking juggernaut” has “left some communities feeling trampled.”
50 academic geoscientists and academic petroleum engineers write to The Guardian saying Lancashire’s shale gas can fill the UK’s energy gap. The letter said: “We call on all politicians and decision-makers at all levels to put aside their political differences and focus on the undeniable economic, environmental and national security benefits on offer to the UK from the responsible development of natural gas from Lancashire’s shale.”
The FT reports that Germany is set to lift its ban on fracking, as early as next year. The paper says the Government has responded to business demands that the country should reduce its dependency on Russian energy and increase competitiveness with American manufacturers.
Carbon Brief reports the International Energy Agency estimate of $48 trillion needed between now and 2035 to meeting rising energy demand. The organisation says the IEA predicts this spending would resulted in 4 degrees of warming. But another $5 trillion would avoid dangerous climate change and still meet demand.
The New York Times reports that vast supplies of gas in the US are being burned off or flared in places where there is no pipeline because it can’t be shipped economically. The article also says fracking is replacing nuclear power in America and displacing investment in renewables and nuclear. Greenpeace attacks Cuadrilla’s threat to pull out of the UK unless it is allowed to drill without landowners’ permission.
The organisation tells the Lancashire Telegraph it views the comments as a “threat to gain more legal powers”.
Plaid Cymru and the Wales Green Party make final-hour calls to the UK government not to include measures in the Queen’s Speech to change the trespass laws to allow fracking companies to drill without permission, according to Wales Online.
Bloomberg reports that opponents of bans on fracking argued in New York State’s highest court that cities and towns should not be able to block hydraulic fracturing within their borders. They said local bars on fracking were trumped by state law. Lawyers defending the bars argued that local governments were within their rights.
Bloomberg also reports that Royal Dutch Shell plc has stopped drilling for shale gas in eastern Ukraine to protect staff from clashes between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian army.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England urges the government to drop plans to allow oil exploration sites to store up to 200 tonnes of crude oil without an environmental licence. More details.
Magellan announces plans to drill two exploration wells in southern England. Its partner, Angus Energy, plans to drill an exploration well at Horse Hill, near Horley in July (PEDL 137). Later in the year, Magellan says it will fund a 50% share of a well drilled by its partner Celtique Energie at Broadford Bridge (PEDL 234). Both wells will be drilled vertically and will not use hydraulic fracturing, the company says. But it added: “During drilling, Magellan will have the opportunity to core and log various shale and tight formations in the Cretaceous and Jurassic sections of the Weald Basin”.
MapLight reveals that California state senators who voted no to a fracking moratorium had received 14 times as much money from the oil and gas industry as senators voting yes ($25,227 on average, compared with $1,772). The bill needed 21 votes to pass. The final vote was 16-16 with eight abstentions. Democrats who abstained received, on average, 4.5 times as much money from the oil and gas industry as Democrats who voted yes.
Barrack Obama becomes the first US president to introduce rules to force the country to cut emissions from coal power plants. Greenpeace says the rules, introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency could make a global deal on tackling climate change possible.
The Guardian says the plan places widely different burdens on different stages with some states allowed to increase emissions.
Bloomberg says Texas alone will account for a quarter of the total reductions. But Kentucky and other coal-dependent states such as West Virginia and North Dakota face cuts of less than half that.
ENDS says the policy seems to lack ambition. It says some states are already halfway towards their goal and the rest could meet their targets by energy efficiency and the dash for gas.
Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, warns the Infrastructure and Competitiveness Bill expected in the Queen’s Speech will undermine efforts to tackle climate change. “Not only does this bill defy public opinion, it denies people a voice,” she says in a statement on her website. “To allow fracking companies to drill under peoples’ homes and land without their permission is to ignore public interest in pursuit of the vested interests of a few.”
The Times reports a poll of shale industry professionals which found educating the public, rather than paying communities thousands of pounds, is the best way to win the debate over fracking. Nearly half those questioned, according to the paper, said community benefits were not enough on their own to secure support for the industry.
Frack Free Greater Manchester calls on new MEPs to oppose a free trade deal, which the organisation says could see the city sued if it banned fracking. The group says the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could give special rights to companies to claim damages if they deem their investments are adversely affected by changes in regulation and policy.
The Hull Daily Mail reports anti-fracking campaigners are concerned that drilling will start at Rathlin Energy’s site at West Newton sooner than expected after equipment was delivered last week. Campaigners, who have set up camps at West Newton and Crawberry Hill, complain that the company is not keeping the community updated.
The Guardian reports a call by the lobby group Energy UK for the EU to rethink “green” energy policy. Its head, Angela Knight, says it is time to move away from “an emotion-driven and expensive energy agenda”. In the same story, the paper also reports that a survey by Ernst and Young found the UK renewables market has become dramatically less attractive to investors over the last 18 months.
The BBC reports that the Queen’s Speech will include a plan to allow developers to offset carbon emissions from new houses if they do not meet the required sustainability standards. The BBC says there were concerns that zero carbon rules coming into force in 2016 would place too great a burden on business. A LibDem proposal would, the broadcaster says, would allow firms to contribute to carbon abatement schemes instead.
Union Jack Oil announces estimates of 5.4 billion barrels of shale oil and over 2.7 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in the northern section of PEDL 201 in Leicestershire. The company has a 10% interest in the area.
The Telegraph reports IGas plans to frack for the first time in the East Midlands next year. Andrew Austin, the company’s chief executive tells the paper planning applications are being prepared for two new sites – one in the North West and one in the East Midlands. The Times reports more than 150 celebrities, scientists and politicians have joined the new campaign group calling for fracking to be suspended while a debate is held into its potential dangers. The paper says the group, “We Need to Talk About Fracking”, includes Sir Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, Helena Bonham Carter, Jude Law, Bianca Jagger, Russell Brand, Vivienne Westwood, Stephen Frears, Miranda Richardson, Alison Steadman, Chrissie Hynde, Anthony Gormley and Tracey Emin.
Shadow energy and climate change secretary, Caroline Flint, called for “more stringent benchmark testing” a year before drilling for shale gas starts. She told the Murnaghan programme on Sky News (quoted by Guernseypress.com) that onshore gas drilling was “not a bad idea” but “for fracking to go ahead, we first and foremost have to be assured that it is being done in a safe and sustainable way”.
The West Sussex County Times reports that Celtique Energie is preparing to submit two more planning applications for sites in the county. A spokesperson told the paper that the company would be “engaging with the relevant communities” before the end of the year.
A paper in the June issue of Energy Research & social Science finds the gas industry and the film Gasland are least trustworthy sources of information about fracking among people questioned for a survey in drilling areas of Pennsylvania. The most trustworthy are university professors and environmental groups. 20% of respondents said there were extremely unfamiliar with fracking and 23% rated their familiarity 2 or 3 on a 7-point scale (where 7 is high).
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