Our digest of last month’s news about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas developments from the UK and around the world.
- Cuadrilla’s legal action to stop trespass in the Fylde and allegations that its contractors trespassed
- Reclaim the Power Camp
- Public opinion surveys
- Research on fracking’s health impacts
- Redacted government report on the impact of onshore drilling
- Objections to Cuadrilla’s Fylde fracking plans
- Balcombe campaigners granted a judicial review
And much more
31st August 2014
Associated Press (picked up by the Review Journal) reports that a state panel in Nevada has approved regulations for fracking in the state. Drilling companies welcomed the regulations and said oil and gas developments would boost the state economy. Opponents said the panel was stacked with members with ties to extractive industries and the review of regulations had been rushed.
The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is starting an investigation into alleged under-reporting by oil and gas operators of waste sent to landfill. The paper says the amount of drill cuttings and fracking fluid sent to Pittsburgh area landfills don’t match with the reporting required of landfills.
The Fermanagh Herald reports Belcoo Frack Free has a “Lock the Gate” campaign to persuade farmers to pledge they won’t allow fracking on their land. Environment Minister Mark Durkan turned down a proposal by Tamboran for exploratory drilling at a quarry near Belcoo but anti-fracking campaigners assume the company won’t give up.
The Sheffield Star reports North Lincs Green Party is offering all towns and parish councils in the area a public screening of the film “The truth behind the dash for gas 2014”, followed by debate on fracking. DECC has granted either licences for exploratory drilling in the area, the paper says.
30th August 2014
The Telegraph reports that the US shale boom and fracking has created multi-millionaires in towns in Texas where families once struggled to make a living. But the paper says, there are downsides in a steady flow of lorries, 24-hours-a-day, the loss of dark nights, increases in crime – and the gold rush could all disappear if the oil price drops.
The Ecologist reports that lives and health are being ruined by pollution from publicly-subsidised fracked gas wells, flaring and refining plants in Colorado. The magazine says a mass of “environmental refugees” are fleeing the state.
EagleFordTexas.com reports that rules that will clear the way for “massive” oil and gas fracking operations in Illinois have been submitted to state legislative committee for final approval. The committee has 45 days to consider the proposed regulations and can request an additional 45 days. The committee’s next hearing is September 16th and the rules must be adopted by November 15th.
Clean Technica reports that the Hilcorp Energy Company, one of the largest privately owned US oil and gas companies, has voluntarily dropped an attempt to force drilling on four unwilling property owners in part of Pennsylvania. The company would have been the first in a shale formation to use the state’s “forced pooling” law, which allows companies to drill once they have a certain number of willing owners under lease.
The East Lothian News quotes Colin Beattie, an SNP member of the Scottish Parliament, as saying it is “absurd” for Westminster to remove the right of Scottish homeowners to object to plans to drill under their property. The paper says there is potential for fracking in East Lothian.
29th August 2014
Bakken.com reports a study by the US National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety on fracking sites in Colorado and Wyoming that revealed workers are exposed to dangerous levels of benzene, which increases the risk of blood cancers. Industry leaders have criticised the sample size of the study and said it did not represent fracking operations as a whole.
Associated Press (reported by FW Business Press) says the US Bureau of Land Management will resume issuing oil and gas leases next year for federal land in California, following a study which found limited environmental impacts from fracking. This ends a moratorium in place since 2013 when a federal judge ruled that the Bureau had failed to follow environmental law by allowing fracking on public land in Monterey County.
BIC magazine reports that the Obama administration launched an interagency review of fracking rules on public land that could take up to 90 days. The magazines says the final rule is unlikely to be published before November’s mid-term elections.
The Lancashire Evening Post reports campaigners will contest Cuadrilla’s temporary injunction against fracking protests when it returns to the High Court in October. The company’s action amounted to “preventing the rest of the world from objecting to fracking”, Tina Louise Rothery tells the paper.
28th August 2014
A judge at Manchester High Court upholds a claim by Cuadrilla and some local farmers for possession of land at Preston New Road, near Little Plumpton. It had been occupied by anti-fracking campaigners from August 7th-27th. The court also issued a temporary injunction preventing future occupation of the land until a second hearing on October 8th, when opponents will contest the action. The company is seeking to apply the injunction to every anti-fracking group in Lancashire and anyone “encouraging and instructing” people to protest via social media. Reports from the Salford Star, Blackpool Gazette, BBC, Residents Action on Fylde Fracking.
The Midhurst and Petworth Observer reports the South Downs National Park Authority will publish committee papers on Celtique Energie’s application to drill at Fernhurst on Wednesday September 3rd. The application is to be discussed on Thursday September 11 and the committee papers are likely to say whether planning officers think it should be approved or refused.
Pennsylvania has for the first time released details of 243 cases in which companies prospecting for oil and gas have been found by state regulators to have contaminated private drinking water wells, according to The Wall Street Journal (quoting Associated Press). The Department of Environmental Protection posted online links to documents AP and other news outlets filed law suits to see the records. The 243 cases are from 2008-2014 and include examples were a single drilling operation affected multiple water wells.
Scientists from Rice University recommend more advanced recycling of liquid fracking waste, rather than disposal, after doing a chemical analysis of the fluid, says Science Daily. Their study, reported in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, found that the fluid did not contain significant amounts of the polyaromatic hydrocarbons that can be hazardous to health. But the study says the presence of chlorocarbons and organobromides, formed by using bactericides suggest the industry should concentrate on non-chemical treatments of waste water.
27th August 2014
The Daily Express reports the launch of a new website MyFrackingQuestions.org from the organisation Talk Fracking. The paper says the new site is backed by celebrities, including Vivienne Westwood, Paloma Faith and Duffy. Dame Vivienne says: “MyFrackingQuestions.org is asking the key questions that the public has told us they want answered definitively by the current government. We are acting now to empower the next generation, preventing them from having to deal with the potentially devastating effects of fracking should it go ahead in this country.”
Anti-fracking campaigner, Timothy Harris, fails to overturn his convictions for assaulting and obstructing a police officer. More details
A petition calling for West Sussex to be made a frack-free zone collects more than 3,000 signatures and secures a debate on the issue by a full meeting of the county council. More details
Analysts Wood Mackenzie project the remaining value of the Marcellus shale gas field, the largest in the world, at more than $90 billion. It forecasts that by 2035, the top 20 operators in the Marcellus will spend $110 billion and drill over 25,000 wells. It expects output to reach 20bcfed (billion cubic feet equivalent) by 2020, accounting for 20% of US gas supply. Two-thirds of rigs have shifted to south west Pennsylvania and West Virginia and the largest production is likely to come from the Susquehanna Core and the Rich Gas Core on the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border. Well results in the top areas have improved, it says, with longer laterals and high volume completions.
26th August 2014
Bloomberg reports on initial findings of research by the Colorado School of Public Health that suggest potential health risks to babies born near oil and gas wells. Researchers found that babies born to mothers living with more than 125 wells within a mile of their homes showed a 30 per cent increase in congenital heart defects, compared with those with no wells within 10 miles. One of them, Lisa McKenzie, says “We really need to do more study to see what the association is, if any, with natural gas development.”
Research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance suggests large-scale divestment from fossil fuels won’t be easy for institutional investors. BlackRock, the largest investor in oil and gas stocks, holds $140bn in its top 25 holdings. The Chinese, Russian and Indian governments are major investors in fossil fuels, the report says. Its author, Nathaniel Bullard, says “Very few other investments offer the scale, liquidity, growth and yield of these century-old businesses with economy-wide demand for their products.”
The Yorkshire Post reports that a tug of war has broken out as energy companies and campaigners fight over the future of some of the most picturesque parts of Yorkshire. Both sides of lobbying over the rules which will be used to decide applications in North Yorkshire, York and the North York Moors National Park. Companies include Dart and Egdon Resources, argue against a ban on drilling in National Parks and AONBs. Campaign groups and individuals urged the authorities to reject applications in the area altogether.
An anti-fracking campaigner is appealing against his convictions for assaulting and obstructing a police officer at last year’s protests at Balcombe. More details
The FT reports that independent oil and gas companies at the forefront of the US shale drilling have substantially improved their financial position.
The Government responds to the Sunday Times story on the effect of fracking sites on the council tax bands of properties: “There is no evidence that house prices have been affected in over half a century of oil and gas exploration in the UK and we see no reason to see why this would change for shale gas and oil extraction. We are putting in place stringent regulations, safety and planning regimes to encourage the responsible development of shale gas in line with our environmental objectives. Shale has a positive part to play in our future energy mix, providing energy security, driving growth and creating jobs.”
The Roseacre Awareness Group and Preston New Road Action Group have responded to an email by Cuadrilla’s PR company about its impending legal action. The groups write: “As representatives of local residents in Little Plumpton, Roseacre and Wharles, i.e. those villages which will be directly affected by Cuadrilla’s plans, we are appalled at Cuadrilla’s actions and ‘holier than thou’ stance. There is no mention of the impact their own actions are having on local residents and we wanted to express our views.” They say lives have been “severely disrupted” since Cuadrilla announced its plans. “Local residents have suffered much anxiety and stress”, they said.
25th August 2014
The Guardian reports that Labour has tabled amendments to the Infrastructure Bill debated in the House of Lords on Tuesday (26th August) that would tighten rules for fracking companies. The paper says the opposition wants to see legal requirements for well-by-well disclosure of fracking fluids used, baseline monitoring of methane levels in ground water, environmental impact assessments for all fracking sites and the inclusion of water companies as statutory planning consultees. Tom Greatrex, shadow Energy minister, tells the paper: “Too often, David Cameron’s government has ignored genuine and legitimate environmental concerns in pursuit of a rhetoric-led policy.”
Residents Action on Fylde Fracking reports Cuadrilla has been accused of “dirty tricks” after serving a group of campaigners with court papers over a land dispute in Lancashire. The campaigners, mainly local grandmothers and mothers, say Cuadrilla is seeking a widespread injunction. The group said it would cover every proposed fracking site in the region, and a local landmark, Lytham Windmill. It would also apply to all campaign groups, national as well as local. In addition to the injunction, Cuadrilla is seeking evict campaigners from Preston New Road Community Protection Camp on land proposed for fracking. The camp is due to disband tomorrow (Wednesday August 27th), RAFF says. The case is due to be heard at Manchester High Court on Thursday 28th August.
Newsweek publishes a feature on fracking-related earthquakes in Oklahoma titled Man-made earthquakes are proliferating, but we won’t admit fault.
Bakken.com carries a report on North Dakota’s refracking boom, where wells sunk as little as three years ago are fracked again
24th August 2014
The Mail Online reports that a woman living 300 yards from one of Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking sites on the Fylde peninsula in Lancashire has seen the value of her five bedroom house has fallen by over 70%. Dianna Westgarth said the property and two-and-a-half acres of land was valued at £725,000 in 2012 but a new valuation came in at £190,000. Two other estate agents suggested the possibility of fracking meant they couldn’t actually say the house was worth anything at all.
The Sunday Times reports homes near fracking sites could be placed in lower council tax bands. It quotes the Valuation Office Agency, which sets the values of properties for council tax purposes, as saying any industrial or commercial development near homes could reduce their value.
23rd August 2014
The Salford Star reports Salford is bracing itself for the next planning application from IGas to potentially frack on Barton Moss. The publication says a series of public meetings are planned, starting on Thursday 28th August when Irlam and Cadishead Frack Free hold a meeting on future activities.
The Hull Daily Mail reports on an anti-fracking march through the city centre.
Residents Action on Fylde Fracking says Fylde Borough council plans to discuss Cuadrilla’s application to frack at Roseacre and Preston New Road at its next meeting on September 17th.
The Lancashire Evening Post reports 10 Fylde farmers, supported by Cuadrilla, have served a claim for possession against what they describe as trespassers who have been occupying land at Preston New Road, since August 7th. The paper says the claimants have also asked the court to consider imposing injunctions so that no future trespass can take place on farmland at or surrounding Cuadrilla’s proposed shale gas exploration sites.
22nd August 2014
The Press Association, quoted by MSN News says Cuadrilla has served a claim for possession at a court in Manchester against 15 anti-fracking campaigners occupying farmland at Little Plumpton near Blackpool. PA says Cuadrilla has described the campaigners as “illegal trespassers” and said they are damaging the farmer’s business. In a statement, Cuadrilla said: “The claim details the detrimental impact that the illegal trespass has had on the affected farmer’s business and on his family. This includes denying the dairy cattle the grazing they need as the occupation has taken over a third of the farm’s grazing land and resulted in lower milk yields.”
The government announces the Competition and Markets Authority is to investigate the proposed acquisition of Dart by IGas.
Earthworks, a US environmental investigation organisation, reports that eliminating natural gas flaring in the Bakken and Eagle Ford oil fields would have the same effect as taking 1.5 million cars of the road. Its report Up in Flames, finds more than $854 million worth of natural gas has been burned as waste in the Bakken since 2010. North Dakota does not track how much companies pay in taxes on flared gas nor independently tracks the volume of flared gas, Earthworks says. Texas does not require producers to pay taxes on flared gas.
21st August 2014
Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association gets a court date for its judicial review. More details.
IGas confirms it has secured a rig to drill an exploration well at Ellesmere Port late this year. The company says the well will be straight and vertical. It adds that other exploratory work, including a Barton Moss, has given the company enough information to design an “appropriate hydraulic fracture programme for wells in north west England.
20th August 2014
Debate programme on fracking scheduled for Radio 4 at 8pm this evening. More details.
The Daily Telegraph reports the US shale boom has helped the oil service company, Wood Group, to a strong set of first half results. Pre-tax profits rose 15% and investors saw a 25% increase in the interim dividend.
The Blackpool Gazette reports residents across the Fylde coast said fracking protests which saw campaigners occupy a Blackpool building for three and a half hours “went too far”. But others told the paper the protests have been worth the trouble and were necessary so that people stand up and listen to the anti-fracking message. Police said investigations into the Monday protests were ongoing, but officers are yet to make any arrests.
Evans Ambrose-Pritchard, writing in the Daily Telegraph, quotes a report by Citigroup that the oil industry is on borrowed time as switch to gas and solar accelerates. The report says world energy markets are entering a period of “extreme flux”, with oil caught in triple encirclement by cheap natural gas, much more efficient vehicles and “breath-taking advances” in solar power. According to Citigroup, solar already competes in growing regions of the world on “pure economics” without subsidies. It has reached grid parity with residential electricity prices in Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia and the US southwest. Japan will cross this year, Korea in 2018 and Britain in 2020.
Investment Week says Britain is probably not on the brink of a US-style shale revolution. It says the reasons include environmental disputes, cost, geographical constraints and a backlash from campaigners in Blackpool, Balcombe and the South Downs. John Dodd, manager of the £80m Artemis Global Energy fund, tells the magazine IGas is the only notable company in the UK for investors, because Cuadrilla is privately owned. He says: “The prospective resources are huge, even a small amount of shale would be enough to balance the UK’s demand for energy. But it will be a long time before it is realised.”
The Hull Daily Mail reports comments by Rathlin Energy chairman David Montagu-Smith that oil and gas tests in East Riding show “exciting” potential. The company has been drilling at West Newton near Aldborough and Crawberry Hill near Walkington. Mr Montagu-Smith tells the paper: “We hope, in the next week or two, we will be in a position to start a flow test. We will then see if there’s potential, but even if that’s successful it’s only a harbinger of more possibilities and there’s still a lot of work to do.”
Ria Novosti reports that Shell has suspended shale gas production in eastern Ukraine. A company source is quoted: “The security situation is such that we are not able to carry out certain activities scheduled by the shale gas production agreement for reasons beyond our control”.
20th August 2014
CBS reports how a man from eastern Ohio who used a biblical reference in billboards opposing fracking faces legal action from a well operator. Buckeye Brine, based in Austin Texas, alleges that billboards paid for by Michael Boals contained false and defamatory attacks against deep-injection sites where the company disposes of waste water from oil and gas drilling.
19th August 2014
The Gloucestershire Echo reports concerns by a county councillor that guidelines for fracking in the county are not strong enough. Paul Hodgkinson, a Lib Dem councillor, says the consultation on the new minerals plan suggests the starting point for every planning application is that it should be approved.
Allister Heath, writing in The Telegraph, says the UK’s “obsession with seeking to decarbonise faster than anybody else and inability to implement the right economic framework for shale – one which allows winners to buy off losers, and truly incentivises locals – has been a tragic missed opportunity”.
CBC News reports on a study by the US Geological Survey, which found earthquakes caused by fracking were, in general, about 16 times weaker than natural earthquakes of the same magnitude. People experiencing induced earthquakes report less shaking than natural ones, but people living within 10 km felt about the same effect, CBC reports.
18th August 2014
Day of action for Reclaim the Power camp. Round-up of events
The Guardian reports that Ineos has bought 51% of the fracking licence PEDL 133, which gives it rights to explore for shale gas in a 127 sq mile area around Grangemouth and the Firth of Forth. Ineos is the world’s fourth biggest chemicals company and through Grangemouth supplies near all Scotland’s forecourt petrol. It has says it intends to become a “major player” in UK onshore gas production.
Jeremy Leggett, writing in the Guardian, says there are five sets of problems with shale in the UK: economic risk; local environmental cost; global environmental cost; social cost and opportunity cost. He says shale looks increasingly like a bubble waiting to burst. There is a “shovel-ready” alternative to gas, he says, that can be developed quickly given collective will: renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Terry Scuoler tells the This is Money website that the UK’s infrastructure is out of date and the country is unable to make quick decisions, whether it is airports, high speed rail or exploring for shale gas.
Women’s Views on The News reports that Breast Cancer UK has “strong concerns about adverse health effects of increased exposure to harmful chemicals as a result of fracking”. The organisation calls for a moratorium on all exploration and exploitation licensing in all EU countries [including the UK] and a comprehensive review of EU policies which pertain to fracking”.
Carbon News reports that a judge in Texas has dismissed a million dollar lawsuit filed by a family which said its lives had been ruined by emissions from oil and gas facilities their home. District Judge Stella Saxon apparently accepted the argument made by Marathon Oil Corp and Plains Exploration & Production (PXP) that Mike and Myra Cerny didn’t have enough medical and scientific evidence to prove to a jury that they have been sickened by oil field emissions.
Bakken.com reports on the case of a Weld County resident who is struggling to get enough sleep in the past month because of noise from a fracking site a short distance from his home. Mike Lozinski, an air traffic controller, says sleep deprivation “has become a safety issue with me because of his job. I don’t care if they frack, but they’re affecting my job”, he says. The company, EnCana, says “We’ve had issues getting our decibel levels down at this site” but “we’ve been working closely with noise control experts to identify and mitigate the noise.”
17th August 2014
Forbes reports that China has cut its target for shale gas production for the second time. The head of China’s National Energy Administration reduced the 2020 production target to 30 billion cubic meters, from 60-80 bcm. Even then, Forbes says China will have a hard time reaching the goal.
16th August 2014
Residents Action on Fylde Fracking reports a record-breaking 14,000 objections to Cuadrilla’s drilling plans for two new sites have been handed in to Lancashire County Council. The organisation says it hopes to increase this number before the planning consultation deadline in October.
The Economist investigates geothermal energy and says Enhanced Geothermal Systems is geothermal fracking. Millions of gallons of water and chemicals are injected into mostly vertical wells at relatively high pressure, and the combination of cold-meets-hot, pressure and chemistry shears the deep, hot rock, the magazine says. This creates new “fracture networks” through which water can be pumped, heated and sent back to the surface to generate power.
WKBN.com reports statistics from the Department of Natural Resources which show Ohio has 1,040 wells listed as drilled, drilling or producing.
15th August 2014
Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Energy Corp, writing an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, says what he calls the “misdeeds of a handful” of fracking companies do not warrant fracking bans. “Instead of rejecting promising new energy-extraction techniques”, he said, “Citizens should work with responsible energy companies to preserve the benefits of fracking, while stamping out current abuses.”
The SNP-led Scottish Government objects to UK Government plans to change the trespass laws and allow oil and gas companies to drill without landowners’ permission. The BBC reports comments by Scotland’s Energy Minister that any decision on drilling rights in Scotland should be taken by the Scottish parliament, rather than at Westminster.
Farmers’ Weekly reports that the Country Landowners Association has accused the government of disregarding property owners’ rights in the drive to carry out shale gas exploration and extraction. The CLA says government plans had “too little regard for property rights and long-term liabilities in order to meet the demands of energy industry investors”, the magazine says. CLA president Henry Robinson tells the magazine his members were concerned because “There is currently no clear system in place to protect landowners from any ongoing liability should problems occur once a well has been abandoned”.
14th August 2014
James Murray, editor of BusinessGreen, says the shale gas industry will never deliver unless it can cut out the PR blunder. In his blog, he says the industry will not be able to persuade people undecided about shale gas if it continues to experience weeks when fracking is associated with falling house prices, redacted reports and controversial polls.
UKOOG’s PR company tells BusinessGreen the difference in its poll (57% approval of shale) and DECC’s the following day (24% support) was because the UKOOG poll gave respondents only the chance to say “yes”, “no” or “don’t know”. DECC, the PR company said, also gave the option to say “neither support nor oppose”.
The BBC’s political research editor, David Cowling, says fracking is likely to cause sleepless nights for a few of the main party candidates before next year’s general election. He said opposition to fracking is most likely to have an influence on the election in areas where the process is already well advanced.
The Telegraph reports analysis by Professor David MacKay, a former government chief scientific advisor, which suggests a wind farm requires 700 times more land to produce the same amount of energy as a fracking site. Prof MacKay, the paper reports, says that a shale gas site uses less land and “creates the least visual intrusion”, compared with a wind farm or solar farm capable of producing the equivalent amount of energy over 25 years. Prof MacKay says fracking has a smaller footprint (measured by land use, height, visual impact and truck movements), than solar or wind farms.
The Guardian reports that several hundred anti-fracking campaigners have taken over a field near one of Cuadrilla’s proposed exploration site for shale gas in the Fylde area, east of Blackpool. More campaigners are expected to join the Reclaim the Power camp later in the week.
13th August 2014
The Guardian reports on a new study which concludes that the impact of fracking on wildlife and the environment in North America is still unknown. The paper quotes Sara Souther, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin, the co-author of the peer-reviewed research, as saying: “We’re conducting a giant experiment without even collecting the important data on the water, air, land or wildlife impacts”. The study in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment reports that the industry has claimed there is no proof of water contamination but Souther says there have been no baseline studies before an area was fracked.
Allister Heath in the Telegraph says shale gas is taking too long to roll out because excessive regulation and complex tax arrangements now require lawyers and increasing time in compliance activities.
Utility Week argues that the government has not fully recognised the significant shortage of skills needed to make fracking successful in the UK. It says the industry needs senior, experienced talent to lead developments and it need to invest now in training.
Energy Voice reports that UK Oil and Gas has increased its stake in the Horse Hill field near Horley in Surrey to 20%. The company has paid £750,000 for a further 12.5% share of Horse Hill Developments, the special purpose company which operates the licence for PEDL 137.
The Belfast Telegraph says Tamboran Resources is considering seeking a judicial review of the decision by Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister, Mark Durkan, to refuse it permission to drill an exploratory borehole at Belcoo, in County Fermanagh. The paper says lawyers for the company are examining previous statements by Mr Durkan, in which he expressed views about fracking.
A report by the US Environmental Integrity Project finds that at least 33 companies drilled 351 wells in 12 states using prohibited diesel fuels, without the required permits, in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act. It also found that drilling companies had changed and removed disclosures of past diesel use from FrackFocus, the industry self-disclosure database of chemicals used in fracking.
12th August 2014
The latest Public Attitudes Tracker commissioned by DECC shows a fall in support for fracking to under 25% of respondents. Our story.
An e-petition calling for West Sussex to be a frack free zone needs just over 200 signatures to secure a debate by county councillors. More details.
The LA Times reports on research by Stanford University, which found that oil and gas wells are being fracked at far shallower depths that widely believed, sometimes through underground sources of drinking water. The paper says the research found no direct evidence of water supply contamination. But it revealed that acid stimulation and fracking was being used in the Wind River and Fort union geological formations in the Pavillion gas field, which contain sources of drinking water.
11th August 2014
MP Caroline Lucas accuses the government of hiding information about fracking after it released a redacted report on the impacts of shale gas on the rural economy. Our report
RTE reports that Northern Ireland’s environment minister, Mark Durkan, has rejected a planning application by Tamboran Resources to drill an exploratory gas well at a quarry in Belcoo, County Fermanagh. Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew welcomed the decision, saying it was the correct one giving the clear opposition to fracking in the area.
Anti-fracking campaigners in West Sussex have two weeks to collect more than 800 signatures to secure a debate on the issue by the county council. Our report.
A new group has been formed to warn Fylde councillors of what it says are the dangers of fracking, the Blackpool Gazette reports. Voice: The Ratepayers Alliance is inviting all 49 members of Fylde Council to a meeting where the issue will be discussed.
The Guardian reports that up to 1,000 anti-fracking campaigners are expected to join the Reclaim the Power camp near Blackpool on Thursday. The Daily Telegraph reports the campaigners are threatening direct action against local businesses.
Solicitors acting for Greenpeace write to Duarte Figuera, head of the Government’s Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil, to advise him that the consultation on changing the trespass laws for drilling companies is flawed and should be scrapped. The letter says the consultation does not accurately describe the effect of the current law. It adds that a clarification by OUGO to the consultation website was added only three weeks before the end of the consultation and was not publicised generally. The letter also requests a full copy of Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts, which was released under a Freedom of Information Act request with more than 60 redactions.
The New York Times reports that Consol Energy is to drill gas wells under cash-strapped Pittsburgh Airport. Horizontal drilling could extract gas from under the terminals and runways. The paper says there are also wells under Dallas-Fort Worth and Denver International.
Bloomberg reports that Colorado is dropping its legal challenge to oil and gas regulations developed by the City of Longmont. A separate lawsuit, the state’s case against Longmont’s ban on fracking, is still pending.
10th August 2014
Environmental campaigners fear an oil company’s plan to drill for gas in the North York Moors National Park will lead to fracking in the area, The Independent on Sunday reports. Third Energy, backed by Barclays, is to begin working Ebberston Moor after winning permission to dispose of radioactive waste drilling fluid by pumping it back into the ground, the paper says. Documents seen by the paper show the Environment Agency has been warned that public water supplies could be affected. Campaigners fear the permission sets a precedent for future fracking applications.
Anti-fracking campaigners from Fernhurst stand by David Smythe, an emeritus professor of geology, who has been told to stop calling himself a chartered geologist. The Midhurst and Petworth Observer reports that Professor Smythe has opposed drilling applications at Balcombe, Wisborough Green and Fernhurst. The Frack Free Fernhurst campaign tells the paper the revelations that Professor Smythe is no longer a chartered geologist seem to be a desperate attempt by the fracking industry to undermine his evidence. FFF believes Professor Smythe’s contribution to the debate remains valid and valuable”, it added.
9th August 2014
Martin Vander Weyer, in his Spectator blog, says Iain Conn, the incoming chief executive of Centrica, gave the clearest exposition he had heard on the practicalities of fracking and the risk of reliance on high-cost imports of liquefied natural gas.
8th August 2014
The Blackpool Gazette reports that anti-fracking campaigners have set up a camp in a field off Preston New Road, due to be fracked for gas. The group said it would stay for at least a week, after which the planned Reclaim the Power protest is expected to arrive in the area.
Carole Worthington, in a letter to the Lancashire Evening Post, says the majority of the residents of Roseacre, Wharles and Treales are against Cuadrilla’s proposed planning application at Roseacre Wood and today delivered their petition to Lancashire County Council at County Hall. She adds: “Francis Egan and Cuadrilla have no proof that it is safe. They haven’t yet successfully drilled an onshore well by this method and at this depth in the UK.”
7th August 2014
Sussex Wildlife Trust calls on the Environment Agency to tell shale gas and oil companies what water supply could be available for fracking in order to manage expectations. The charity says the EA is working on plans to improve the ecological status of the UK’s water resource. Demands on water should be managed at a level that doesn’t pose a risk to the ecological status of rivers, ponds and groundwater, it says.
The Lancashire Evening Post reports that more than 5,000 letters of objection to fracking were handed in to Lancashire County Council yesterday. The paper says they were delivered by Frack Free Lancashire, an alliance of more than 20 anti-fracking groups. Cuadrilla has made two planning applications to frack for gas at Little Plumpton and Roseacre.
6th August 2014
Fylde councillor, Maxine Chew, accuses anti-fracking campaigners of being “aggressive and very antagonistic”, the Blackpool Gazette reports. “Every single person I know who is for shale gas is afraid to speak out”, she says. Cllr Chew, who says she is neutral on fracking, supported a call for a moratorium on the technique until matters around safety and regulation had been resolved.
4th August 2014
A comment by Tim Morgan in the Telegraph says shale development does not economic sense and will be seen in future this decade’s version of the dotcom bubble. He argues that Britain needs more sources of energy but says those who claim the answer is fracking are putting hope ahead of reality. The article says investor poured hundreds of billions of dollars into shale in the US but operators on a drilling treadmill and net cash flow has been negative, year after year. The US is already “littered with wells that have been abandoned, often without the site being cleaned up”.
3rd August 2014
The Littlehampton Gazette reports Arundel and South Downs MP, Nick Herbert, welcomes the government’s announcement that fracking will not take place in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty only in exceptional circumstances.
The Guardian reports that Ineos, which runs the Grangemouth chemicals plant, is “more or less likely” that it will apply for licences to extract shale gas under the 14th round of onshore applications launched by the government last week. Ineos is investing at Grangemouth to handle ethane gas derived from shale in North America. Director, Tom Crotty, expressed frustration at the slow pace of UK shale development.
The Guardian (and many others) reports that a petrol bomb was thrown from a passing car at the home of a security guard working at a drilling site at Belcoo, County Fermanagh. No one was injured. Donal O’Cofaigh, spokesperson for Belcoo Frack Free, said the attack was on the home in the outskirts of Enniskillen of an employee of Samdec Security, which is guarding the site where Tamboran Resources plans to drill.
2nd August 2014
Nick Herbert, writing a comment in the West Sussex County Times, says the oil and gas industry could not have wished for a worse advocate than Celtique Energie for its earliest fracking applications. He says the company, recently refused permission to drill at Wisborough Green/Kirdford, failed to provide accurate information on traffic to assuage the community’s biggest concern. Instead, their chief executive branded West Sussex objectors as ‘selfish and unpatriotic’. He then dismissed the county council’s decision as ‘politically motivated’. There needs to be better information about what fracking entails, including open and honest information from the industry about issues such as lorry movements, Mr Herbert writes. The industry, he says, needs to get a lot smarter.
In a letter to the West Sussex County Times, Roger Arthur (UKIP parliamentary candidate for Horsham), says appropriate sites for fracking need to be identified before companies submit applications. Referring to the refusal of Celtique Energie’s application at Wisborough Green/Kirdford, he says: “To put villagers through uncertainty, wasting money and resources, was not smart and unacceptable sites surely need to be identified earlier on.” He adds “It would be arrogant to neglect the concerns” of villagers.
The leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett, tells the Shropshire Star plans for fracking in the county should be scrapped immediately. The paper says Dart Energy wants to test drill for coal bed methane under Duddleston Heath. Ms Bennett says no case has been constructed for fracking in Shropshire.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s candidate for Salford at the general election, tells the Salford Star: “I am sceptical about fracking and I am also worried about the energy polices coming from central government. I would work with concerned constituents to oppose further fracking should central government decide to grant licenses to frack against the clear wishes of this constituency.”
The Yorkshire Post reports six anti-fracking campaigners were arrested today at a drilling site Crawberry Hill, near Beverley. Police officers and bailiffs were trying to clear a protest camp after the High Court granted an injunction to Rathlin Energy. Members of an anti-fracking campaign group remain nearby and have set up a camp on grass verges, the paper says.
The Guardian reports that Cuadrilla trespassed on private land for geological surveys carried out in 2012. The paper says the company has paid out to a least one Lancashire homeowner to settle legal action over trespass. The Guardian says Cuadrilla was warned a meeting with ministers in July last year that such issues undermined confidence in the company and “only served to strengthen what was now becoming a national campaign” against shale gas exploration. The minutes of a meeting were released under freedom of information rules. According to the meeting notes, Lord Browne said the board was now working effectively and was taking these issues very seriously.
1st August 2014
Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association wins the right to challenge in court the decision by West Sussex County Council to grant planning permission to Cuadrilla to flow test and flare in the village. Our report
David Moore, writing in the West Sussex County Times, asks “What happens if something goes wrong during fracking, which leads to contamination of the water supply, particularly the aquifers? How do you decontaminate an essential and necessary resource? The standard reply that, ‘it’s unlikely to happen’, is pointless. We must know what would be done if it did happen.”
The Telegraph reports that Dr David Smythe, a retired geology professor who has argued against oil drilling in the Weald, has been told he must stop claiming he is a chartered geologist. The paper says Dr Smythe is no longer a member of the Geological Society. It adds that Professor Paul Younger, of Glasgow University, told the Times: “He falsely claims to be a chartered geologists. That’s fraudulent. It’s a wilful untruth. Dr Smythe tells The Telegraph Professor Younger is a director of Five Quarter Energy and has a vested interest in unconventional fossil fuels.
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