Daily headlines

October 2014 fracking headlines

Our digest of last month’s news about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas developments from the UK and around the world including:

  • IGas unveils plans to increase drilling in South Downs National Park and Surrey
  • Report finds Cuadrilla’s plans for Fylde already causing anxiety and stress
  • Bianca Jagger calls for UK fracking ban until human rights assessment is carried out
  • Shropshire councillors “minded” to refuse Dart drilling plan for Ellesmere
  • Government adds clause to Infrastructure Bill to allow disposal of waste 300m below ground without the landowners’ permission
  • IGas acquisition of Dart goes ahead
  • Celtique Energie to appeal against refusal of planning permission for drilling near Wisborough Green and Kirdford in West Sussex
  • Report clears Barton Moss police of brutality against anti-fracking campaigners
  • Dart Energy wins appeal against refusal of planning permission to drill near Wrexham

31st October 2014

Cuadrilla’s fracking plans for Fylde already causing anxiety and stress, health study concludes Our report

Distribution of Cuadrilla’s proposed monitoring sites in the Wyre and Fylde areas of Lancashire Map here

Rathlin suspends activities at West Newton Rathlin Energy’s spokesperson says “activities at the well at West Newton will now be suspended to enable the team to undertake further engineering evaluation”. All equipment will be moved off the site over the next week. Full update coming soon.

Build-up of annular pressure at Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall well Private Eye reports that the Health and Safety Executive asked to see cement bond logs for Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall well after the company reported a build-up of annular pressure (caused by a seepage of gas or fluids coming up from the well). Cuadrilla replied that it had been told that it didn’t need to do a cement bond log. “Given the national importance of shale gas and the vas shale resources we are told exist, a high quality regulatory regime is clear justified”, Private Eye said. “We don’t have one”, the magazine adds.

No oil found at Leicestershire exploration site The Leicester Mercury reports that oil exploration plant at Burton on the Wolds near Loughborough is being dismantled after drilling failed to find anticipated deposits. Egdon Resources thought there could be 3.8 m barrels of oil under Horse Leys Farm. But its production manager, Martin Brooks, said “We thought there would be a deep section of Rempstone sand which contained the hydrocarbons, in this case oil, we were looking for. We found only a thin layer of sand and then we encountered rock that does not contain hydro-carbons.”

Drilling Deeper. A reality check on US government forecasts for a lasting tight oil and shale gas boom A report by the Post Carbon Institute suggests that maintaining US shale gas production, let alone increasing it, will be problematic. Four of the top seven shale gas plays are already in decline, it says. The only increases in major plays are in the Marcellus, along with gas from the Eagle Ford and oil from the Bakken. It suggests the EIA predictions of production highs is unlikely to be realised and questions plans for LNG exports and long-term US energy security.

Colorado considers fracking’s future BBC News reports on the two sides of the fracking debate in and around Denver.

Shale threatened by oil slump, says Shell The Times reports that Shell is unlikely to push ahead with new fracking projects in North America if oil prices stay at current levels for a year. The company said its quarterly profits would be $2 bn lower for every quarter that the price of crude remained at $85 a barrel.

Oxfordshire urged to stay neutral over fracking A report on fracking for Oxfordshire County Council, covered by The Oxford Mail, concludes fracking could release “significant energy”. But the report says the county has to remain neutral on the issue. “To those local communities which may be affected, it is undoubtedly a matter of great concern”, the report says.

Brent FoE shape up for a fight against Park Royal proposals In response to the application to DECC by London Local Energy for a drilling licence in north west London, Brent Friends of the Earth says “We resolutely oppose fracking in Brent, or anywhere else”. The group’s local co-ordinator, Ian Saville, tells Wembley Matters: “We urge Brent Council to turn down the application by London Local Energy to site a well head in Park Royal. (The company has not applied for planning permission).

Germany divided over fracking DW covers the range of opinion, including a 650,000 signature petition for a ban on fracking presented to the federal environment minister, Barbara Hendricks. She says she is against fracking but cites pressure from the gas lobby to allow the technique to go ahead.

30th October 2014

Veteran US lobbyist tells energy industry “win ugly or lose pretty” The New York Times reports on a secretly taped meeting where political consultant, Richard Berman, tells the oil and gas industry it must be prepared to discredit environmentalists and liberal celebrities if it wants to prevent opponents slowing down drilling Berman told oil industry executives they must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed and anger and turn them against environmental groups. Major corporations should not worry about offending the public because “you can either win ugly or lose pretty”. Tape of meeting and Transcript

Bianca Jagger calls for fracking ban until human rights impact assessment Bianca Jagger urged the UK government to issue a fracking moratorium until an independent, transparent and publicly-funded human rights impact assessment is carried out. Our report  Links to related articles in The Ecologist: Fracking – human rights must not be ignored and Fracking is driving UK civil and political rights violations

Tell Boris, Don’t Frack London Petition launched calling on Boris Johnson to implement a moratorium on fracking in London until there is conclusive scientific evidence on possible health and environmental risks

Fracking emits more formaldehyde than medical students experience from dead bodies New research finds fracking can pollute the air with carcinogenic formaldehyde at levels twice as high as medical students experience when dissecting dead bodies. Reported in The Telegraph, the research also found that levels of benzene around shale gas wells in the US were up to 770,000 higher than usual background quantities and 33 times the concentration smelt by drivers filling up at petrol stations. Levels of hydrogen sulphide were also up to 60,000 times an acceptable odour threshold. The Telegraph says exposure for five minutes at one site in Wyoming was the equivalent of living in Los Angeles for two years or Beijing for eight and a half months. Ken Cronin of UK Onshore Oil and Gas said “air quality will be monitored before, during and after any activity”. Report in The Independent

The environmental costs and benefits of fracking: the state of research The Journalist’s resource reports on productivity and reserves of US shale, water requirements and risks, well integrity and failure rates, risks to surface and groundwater, seismic effects and air pollution.

The Overnights review The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw gives four stars to Jesse Moss’s documentary about the impact of homeless transient oil workers, lured to North Dakota by fracking. The film records the reaction of local people when a priest lets the workers sleep in his church.

Fracking saved US consumers $60-$248 bn in 2013 A report commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute concludes that horizontal  multi-stage hydraulic fracturing  cut oil prices by $12-$40 per barrel in 2013 and petroleum products by $0.29-$0.94 per gallon. This saved US consumers $63-$248 bn in 2013 and $165-$624 bn between 2008 and 2013.

Will Wall Street love fracking as oil prices fall? Bloomberg Business Week reports on the impact of falling prices on investment in shale. The oil and gas industry relies more than ever on Wall Street financing, the article says, and Wall Street is even more exposed to an industry known for wild ups and downs. One fund manager described fracking in the US as “a credit boom just as much as it was the shale boom”. Lower prices threaten to turn off the cash spigot, Bloomberg says, and this could reshape the way the world thinks about oil.

Fracking north-west London: Assembly member reacts to London Local Energy bid for drilling licences Green Party assembly member tells GetWestLondon “the suggestion that London residents will not notice the noise and disruption of fracking trusts as it already has high levels of traffic and noise is truly insulting”. She says “More noise, pollution on our roads is completely unacceptable. Nor should the risks of contaminating ground water with toxic chemicals be under-estimated”.

New York governor continues to delay decision on fracking Shale Energy Insider reports that Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo has decided to delay a decision about whether to allow fracking in New York until after the election, pending results of research on potential health hazards.

29th October 2014

Manufacturers support Lancashire shale gas production 30 manufacturers write to The Times saying exploiting the potential of shale gas in north west England is vital for Britain. Report from the Works Management website

Impact of oil prices on fracking boom The Times reports that falling oil prices are threatening to stall the energy boom in the US where the high costs of many fracking projects could make production uneconomic. But the Wall Street Journal reports industry experts who say oil prices would need to fall at least another $20 a barrel to choke off the boom, though smaller US producers could face problems before that.

What does shale extraction mean for manufacturing in the north west? A report by the NW Energy Task Force says the development of shale could lead to cheaper, more reliable energy and a new £33 bn supply chain. It says shale could increase energy security and provide assured supply in the gap before the new generation of nuclear and cost-effective storage of renewable energy come online. Lancashire could become a European hub for shale, it says, but the region needs to start preparing now to ensure it has the right supply of skills and infrastructure.

Scientists sceptical about nitrogen oxide emissions from fracking Environmental Technology Online reports on a $100,000 research project into whether emissions from fracking were increasing ozone levels in San Antonia, Texas. The website says the results indicate an increase in hydrocarbons but no increase of nitrogen oxides (which raise ozone levels). But researchers remain sceptical because nitrogen oxides could have risen above the mobile monitoring unit.

Plunging oil prices hit Total profits The FT reports a warning by Total that sharply falling oil prices make cost-cutting more likely. The company reported a net profit of $3.5bn in the three months to the end of September, down 6% compared with the same period last year.

OPEC expects fall in US shale output The FT also reports a prediction by OPEC of a sharp reduction in higher cost production, such as US shale, of the price of crude oil remains around $85 a barrel. The secretary-general of OPEC, Abdalla El-Badri, told an industry conference that 50% of tight oil (another name for shale) is a risk at current prices.

400 homes evacuated after leak at fracking site EagleFordTexas.com reports that about 400 homes in eastern Ohio were evacuated after a fracking operation leaked and discharged gases into the air. There was no fire, explosion or spillage, state officials told the website and the operator’s safety plan was executed “almost flawlessly”. Most people were allowed home by the evening.

Anti-fracking campaigners set up protest camp at Leicestershire oil exploration site The Leicester Mercury reports that protesters have set up camp outside the Egdon Resources drilliing site at Burton on the Wolds near Loughborough. Egdon says it is not fracking, the paper says.

Telford councillors urged to oppose fracking The Shropshire Star reports that campaign group Newport 21 told a public meeting on fracking that the Telford area should “crack on” with renewables rather than investing in shale, which “we do not even know is there”.

Woodburn drill site “not suitable for fracking” The drilling company, Infrastrata, tells the Carrick Times it will not frack at a planned exploration well in the Woodburn Forest, near Carrickfergus. Campaign groups have opposed the project, questioning how any viable source of fuel at the site would be extracted.

NGOs warn of fresh threat to environmental judicial review ENDS reports on fears by environmental groups that clauses in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, currently going through the House of Lords, could make it more difficult to challenge government decisions on the environment. The conservation coalition LINK, which represents groups including Friends of the Earth, RSPB, WWF-UK and Buglife, warns that the bill is trying to deter civil society bringing and intervening in environmental cases by making the threat of legal costs uncertain and intimidating. It is particularly concerned with clauses that could expose charity donors and interveners in judicial review cases to legal costs.

Stop fracking in Scotland Alison Johnstone, representing Lothian for the Scottish Green Party in the Scottish Parliament, tables the motion: “That the Parliament considers that fracking and coal gas extraction should be banned; supports communities across Scotland who are campaigning to protect their health and local environment, and believes that Scotland should not rely on more oil and gas but become a successful and truly low-carbon economy.”

28th October 2014

On closing day of 14th round, pro-fracking commentator announces bid for three London drilling licencesOur reportBBC coverage Get West London report (30/10/14) report on This is Local London (31/10/14)

New amendments on shale gas in Infrastructure Bill Baroness Young of Old Scone introduces an amendment which would add to planning guidance a presumption against onshore oil and gas development in biodiversity Protected Areas and land linked to them. Lords Hodgson, Whitty, Teverson and Jenkin of Roding propose an amendment requiring a sovereign wealth fund to receive no less than 50% of revenue from the extraction and sale of shale gas. The money would be used to “serve long-term public objectives, other than those connected with monetary and exchange rate policy.

Energy groups left bruised as falling oil prices bite into profits. The FT reports that tumbling oil prices have hit two London-listed energy companies, BP and BG Group, in one of the first tangible signs of how the oil supply glut is affecting the global economy. Both companies reported a fall in third-quarter profits on Tuesday, in part due to falling oil prices.  The Telegraph covers the BP profits fall, saying the company continues to suffer from the expiry of its historic onshore contract in Abu Dhabi, while a weak Russian rouble and soft crude prices weighed on earnings.

Fracking: in the path of the shale gale The FT reports from a meeting between executives of Great Western Oil and Gas and local people in Windsor Colorado where the company wants to drill. Within minutes of the start, one resident asked chief executive, Rich Frommer, “How can you and your family, with any conscience at all, disrupt and possibly ruin the lives of so many other families by drilling in such close proximity to so many homes?” Mr Frommer was already wealthy and his only concern, she said, was to enrich his family further. “Answer this please: when is enough money enough?”

Scientists blame oil drilling for spike in baby deaths in Colorado town, but residents say they depend on it Mail Online reports that air pollution from oil and gas wells around Vernal, Utah, are being linked to the deaths of 13 infants last year – a rate x6 higher than the national average. The site says Donna Young, the midwife who raised the alarm, is being threatened because drilling has helped the area prosper. Vernal has 12,000 wells. In 2010, one in every 95.5 burials in Uintah County was a baby. This increased to one in 53 in 2011, one in 39.7 in 2012 and one in 15 last year.

Questions about fracking and Rathlin Energy operation in Northern Ireland The Ballymoney and Moyle Times reports that local Northern Ireland assembly member Daithi McKay asked the Minister of Enterprise what action she was taking to prevent fracking in North Antrim. The Minister, Arlene Foster replied: “Rathlin Energy Limited’s Work Programme as agreed with my Department under Petroleum Licence PL3/10 is based on exploration for conventional oil and gas targets, using industry standard techniques. Neither Rathlin Energy Limited nor any other company have proposed using High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) in North Antrim. “I have already stated that I consider the potential use of HVHF in Northern Ireland to be novel and controversial and as such a matter for the Executive to decide on.”

Seismic activity and fracking concerns prompt new rules for oil and gas disposal wells in Texas The Hydraulic Fracking Blog reports on amendments by the Railroad Commission of Texas today of regulations for existing oil and gas disposal wells. The blog says permit applications will require seismic activity data and applicants will have to provide more frequent monitoring and reporting for certain wells. Permits can be modified, suspended or terminated if wells are contributing to seismic activity.

27th October 2014

The Leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council reveals why concerns about the effect of fracking on world famous hot springs led the council to try (unsuccesfully) to bid for drilling licencesOur report.  Coverage by the Bath Chronicle

October 26th 2014

“Site is totally unsuitable for drilling” Nick Herbert, Conservative MP for Arundel and the South Downs tells the West Sussex County Times that Celtique Energie’s proposal to drill between Wisborough Green and Kirdford was on a “totally unsuitable site” because of the lorry traffic it would cause through Wisborough Green. The company has appealed against a refusal of planning permission by West Sussex County Council. Mr Herbert repeated the view, expressed on October 16th (see our report below) that he hopes the company will lose its appeal. He also promised to “scrutinise carefully” the Infrastructure Bill, which would block the right of landowners to refuse permission for fracking below their properties.

23rd October 2014

Planners seek more time for Cuadrilla’s Lancashire fracking applications More details and Guardian report and Telegraph article

Strip Queen of fracking riches Boris Johnson tells the Telegraph the Queen should share wealth from fracking with homeowners. He says homeowners should benefit from minerals found under their homes. Current rules mean that the Queen, as head of state, is technically the owner. He said the way rights were structured explained why there was a fracking revolution in the US but in the UK. “It’s all taken by the state and there is no motive to get going… that is the change that needs to be brought into the law to give people the rights to the stuff that exists beneath their property.”

Oil and gas information day West Sussex County Council announces a second information day on oil and extraction. It is on Saturday November 8th at the Assembly Rooms, Council House, North Street, Chichester. More details 

October 22nd 2014

Protest steps up at Horley The Surrey Mirror (and social media) report two protesters staged a lock-on outside the Horse Hill oil exploration site at Horse Hill, near Horley. Britain and Ireland Frack Free said protesters were taking action over fears that fracking for shale gas may take place at the site in the future.

London set for £94bn bonanza from fracking The London Evening Standard reports on research by Conservative London Assembly member Tony Arbour which claims London could benefit from a £94 billion shale oil and gas bonanza. Mr Arbour’s work is based on the British Geological Survey of potential shale oil in the Weald basin. If just 40% were recovered, Mr Arbour tells the paper, there would be a windfall of £93.7 billion at current oil prices. He said environmentalists were putting this at risk and he called on Boris Johnson to back fracking in the region. A spokesperson for the mayor said: “We should leave no stone unturned, or unfracked, as long as we comply with the relevant planning and environmental regulations, to help keep London’s lights on, energy bills down, create more jobs and boost London’s energy industry.”

Fracking companies exploiting the Halliburton loophole to inject toxic chemicals – report Research by the US Environmental Integrity Project finds that several oil and gas companies are exploiting a loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act to frack with petroleum-based products. The Halliburton loophole requires a permit for fracking with diesel but allows companies to inject other, more toxic products, without permits or safeguards, the report says. It quotes a drilling company in West Texas which injected up to 48,000 gallons of benzene last month. The use of ethyl benzene and other toxic chemicals appears to be common, the research suggests, despite potential threats to drinking water supplies and public health.

EU seeks alternative energy supplies FT.com reports the European Commission is looking at diversifying supplies of gas to cope with any disruption of imports from Russia. The site says improving domestic supplies of gas, such as from Norway or the UK, is on the cards but it says “reserves are depleting, while Europe’s fledgling shale gas industry has faced popular protests”. Gas from further afield, such as north Africa, the eastern Mediterranean and central Asia, have been considered but each has problems.

Hostility limits growth of fracking in Europe The FT reports the shale revolution in Europe is moving at a snail’s pace. It mentions fracking bans in some European countries and the lack of clear evidence in the UK and Poland that shale resources can be extracted commercially. But it says despite setbacks and opposition from environmental groups, companies remain confident. Andrew Austin, of IGas, says his company will flow test two wells in the Bowland Basin.

5 million + living near oil and gas wells A report by the National Resources Defense Council found 5.4m people in California live within a mile of at least one active oil and gas well. The report, quoted by the Los Angeles Times, said these people were most likely to be affected by potential air and water pollution if fracking, acidizing and horizontal drilling expands in the state. The Western States Petroleum Association said living within a mile of oil production facilities did not pose a health risk.

Geochemical tracers can ID fracking flowback fluids Research by National Science Foundation (reported by Environmental Protection) has developed tracers to identify fracking flowback fluids that have been spilled or released into the environment. The work, based at Duke University, uses the isotopic and geochemical fingerprints of enriched born and lithium in flowback fluid to detect if it has escaped into water supply and what risks, if any, this poses.

No MLAs attend no-fracking meeting The Coleraine Times says a meeting in Portballintrae on October 16th voted overwhelmingly to stop exploratory drilling and fracking in Northern Ireland. No Northern Ireland assembly members from North Antrim attended the meeting, the paper says. A spokesperson for the organisers, Protect Our North Coast, described this as “very disappointing”. Rathlin Energy, which holds the licence for the area, said it had submitted a planning application and was preparing an Environmental Impact Assessment.

IGas share allocation IGas announces it has allocated 99,100 shares to employees under the company’s share incentive plan. The holding by executive directors now stands at: Andrew Austin 10,971,164, Stephen Bowler 81,825 and John Blaymires 31,911. Press release

October 21st 2014

Former EA chair heads industry-funded fracking research group The former chair of the Environment Agency, Lord Chris Smith will head an industry-funded group set up to carry out “independent and transparent” research into shale gas, Bloomberg reports. The Task Force on Shale Gas is funded by Centrica Plc, Cuadrilla Resources Ltd, oil engineer Weir Group Plc, energy company Total SA and Dow Chemical Co. Bloomberg quotes a statement which says the group will offer guidance on energy over the next two years and soon call for evidence. Lord Smith said the group would “provide impartial opinions on the impacts, good and bad, that the exploitation of shale gas will have”. Guardian report and article from Business Green
Fight against fracking in Mendips moves up a gear The Somerset Guardian reports campaigners are calling a series of public meetings about potential fracking in the Mendips. Frack Free Somerset is concerned that the recent extension of time to UK Methane for drilling license PEDL 227 means an application to drill in the Norton Radstock area is imminent. Nine public meetings are planned for November.

Oil, power and conspiracy DW reports that oil price falls would be more painful to Russia than sanctions. It quotes a Deutsche Bank report which found 45% of Russia’s budget is financed from energy export revenues. Russia needs an oil price of around $100 per barrel to balance its budget the report said. (Current prices are around $85).

Is EPA’s inspector general overstepping with review of fracking regulations? The Washington Post reports the US Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general is moving forward with a review of pollution risks from fracking, despite objections from some politicians that he is overstepping his remit. The Republican senator for Oklahoma, James Inhofe, said inspectors general are “not allowed to conduct regulatory investigations but this is what this review appears to be”. The Inspector General, Arthur Elkins, said federal law gives him the independence and authority to make such calls.

October 20th 2014

Competition authority clears IGas deal The Competition and Markets Authority confirms it has cleared the takeover of Dart Energy by IGas. The CMA says more details will be available soon on its website

Renewables not shale biggest driver in US emissions cuts Business Green reports on a study by Greenpeace Energy Desk which suggests only 30% of emissions reductions in the US came from switching from coal to gas. Renewables were responsible for 40% of the drop and the remaining 30% from greater energy efficiency. Greenpeace report

Labour at odds over fracking The Times reports the Labour Party leadership is starkly at odds with opinion among MPs and voters, according to two surveys. More Labour MPs oppose fracking than support it and lest than 1.4 of prospective women Labour voters think fracking should be used to extract shale gas. The paper says the surveys raise doubts about whether a future Labour government would back the emerging shale industry.

Divestment campaign urges customers to boycott banks which support fracking The Independent says customers of Britain’s biggest banks are threatening to close their accounts unless banks cut ties with coal, tar sands, fracking and other fossil fuel industries. The Move your Money campaign, launched today, targets HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Santander. Backed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the campaign also demands banks disclose their investment in fossil fuels within three months.

State studies on shale-site air emissions incomplete, according to court documents The Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports that court depositions by two Department of Environmental Protection employees  reveal that three widely cited state studies of air emissions at Marcellus Shale gas development sites in Pennsylvania omit measurements of key air toxins. They also calculate the health risks of just two of more than two dozen pollutants.

October 19th 2014

Scottish government to decide on Airth gas plans The Falkirk Herald reports the announcement by the Scottish government that it will have the final say on an appeal by Dart Energy for planning permission for coal bed methane development at Letham Moss near Airth. This was the first public inquiry in the UK into a planning application for CBM. It last four weeks and heard evidence from 50 witnesses, the Herald says. A statement from the Scottish government issued on October 19th said: “In line with the government’s cautious, considered and evidence based approach to unconventional oil and gas extraction in Scotland Ministers will now take the decision.”

Fracking concerns highlighted in city centre flash mob The Nottingham Post reports a flash mob of anti-fracking campaigners performed in Old Market Square. The campaigners told the paper the performance was designed to raise awareness and encourage people to sign a petition against fracking.

Musselburgh MSP slams “irresponsible” fracking plans The Lothian News reports that Musselburgh MSP, Colin Beattie, has reiterated his opposition to fracking. The SNP member believes plans to open up central and southern Scotland for shale gas will create an unsafe environment in densely-populated areas.

Anti-fracking camp set up in Wrexham Wrexham.com reports that an anti-fracking camp has been set up on the proposed site for testing coal bed methane at Boras. The planning inspectorate overturned a refusal of planning permission for the site at Commonwood Farm, earlier this month.

New clause added Farmer Beki Adam writes in the Mid Sussex Times about the recent government amendment allowing drilling companies to dispose of waste under private land without the owners’ permission. The amendment was introduced after the end of a public consultation. “This ‘new clause’ presents a radical departure from the idea of simple access”, she says. “I cannot imagine our nation of home, garden and countryside loving people will let this legislation to remove our rights get through the House of Commons. Of course we can only object to it, if we know about it.”

Anti-fracking activist selected as Green Party candidate The Green Party of Northern Ireland announces that anti-fracking campaigner Tanya Jones has been selected as its candidate for the Fermanagh & South Tyrone constituency at the next General Election on 7th May 2015. Tanya Jones is chair of the Fermanagh & South Tyrone group of the Green Party and Northern Ireland membership secretary. She has been editor and legal co-ordinator for the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network.

October 18th 2014

Campaigners call on council to reject fracking plans The Shropshire Star reports campaigners have called Shropshire Council to reject plans by Dart Energy for an exploratory borehole near Ellesmere on Friday (October 24th).

UK fracking bust amid OPEC oil price war The Telegraph reports that a rush to start fracking for oil across Britain may be over before it has begun as the slump in global oil prices makes the process increasingly uneconomic. The paper quotes research from Deutsche Bank that suggests if prices of Brent crude fall below $80 a barrel then almost 40% of shale oil wells in north America could become uneconomic overnight.

Celebrity support for Frack Free Lancashire Frack Free Fylde reports that Russell Brand gives his backing to the campaign against fracking in Lancashire during the 10-day demonstration in Parliament Square in London.

October 17th 2014

No vote on frack free motion West Sussex County Council votes not to vote on a motion to declare the county a frack free zone. Our report

Parliament Square occupation Opponents of fracking join campaigners against other government policies in a 10-day demonstration at Parliament Square in London. Updates here

Dart Energy becomes UK’s largest coal-bed methane firm Ends reports that Dart, the Australian energy firm acquired by IGas, now dominates the UK coal-bed methane market. Together, the two companies hold 35 petroleum exploration and development licences across the UK, covering more than one million acres of land. Dart has the most advanced domestic commercial extraction projects, including one near Airth in Scotland, where a planning decision was called in by the Scottish government.

New guidance on storing natural gas The government publishes new planning guidance on storing natural gas. The new guidance includes structures regarded as suitable for storing gas, such as: suitable, well-investigated geological structure that has been proven to retain hydrocarbons over millions of years” could be used. “Large volumes of gas are pumped in through wells and when needed later, are withdrawn through these wells”, it adds.

UK should import fracking technical knowledge from the US Shale Energy Insider reports on a shale gas workshop, held by CMS in London. It quotes Alex Grant Director of the Energy Investment Banking Group at Jefferies, who said there was little talk of technical knowledge in the UK. It needs to be imported from the US, he said. “Hiring a couple of experts is not enough”.

Fracking: the explosive truth Geoffrey Lean, in his Telegraph Blog, says amendments to the Infrastructure Bill (giving drilling companies a right to put any substances underground) have made fracking – the government’s “most disliked initiative” – even more unpopular. “This is figuratively, if not literally, explosive stuff”, he says. “More than three quarters of the Tories’ 40 top target seats are in areas recently opened up for fracking, and a poll suggests that only 15 per cent of prospective Tory voters (and just 11 per cent of UKIP ones) in marginal seats see it as a top energy priority. Two thirds of the people of Sussex want a moratorium. Do David Cameron and George Osborne have any idea of what they are doing?”

Collaborate to quantify fracking risks YourOilAndGasNews.com reports an initiative by DNV GL which invites industry and other stakeholders to take part in a joint project to collect data and develop risks assessment methodologies for fracking. DNV GL is proposing to bring together people from all over the world, the site says.

October 16th 2014

MP comments on drilling company appeal Nick Herbert, Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs, says he hopes Celtique Energie will lose planning appeal against refusal to drill at Wisborough Green and Kirdford. Our report

Frack free zone advice West Sussex County Council advised by officers to refuse call for a frack-free zone Our report

Anti-fracking activist faces fine and jail in ongoing feud with gas firm The Guardian reports that Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation, one of the biggest operators in Pennsylvania, is seeking fines and jail for long-time activist Vera Scroggins. The company claims in court papers filed this week that she is in contempt on an injunction barring her from areas near its well sites.

Fracking central UKIP’s Derby North candidate for the general election tells the Derby Telegraph UKIP want fracking to be at the heart of Britain’s energy revival.

IGas Acquisition completed IGas announces the completion of its acquisition of Dart Energy Ltd.

Paterson: fracking would be boon for poorest parts of the UK The Guardian reports comments by former environment secretary, Owen Paterson, who said fracking “could be a real boon to poorly renumberated parts of the country, you know remote parts of Lancashire, remote parts of Shropshire”. The paper quotes Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, as saying: “To suggest that government-neglected local economies could benefit from fracking in any substantial way is gravely misleading.” She said fracking could damage tourism and farming in rural economies. “Investment in renewables, however, would create jobs, and make for more resilient local economies, an inconvenient truth for the pro-fracking lobby, Mr Paterson included”, she added.

City says no to fracking plans The Lancaster Guardian reports local campaigners took part in the “Global Frackdown” event to raise awareness about the impacts of fracking.

Barton Moss policing report A report on policing at the Barton Moss anti-fracking protests clears officers of brutality but says Greater Manchester Police must improve the way it handles demonstrations, according to the Manchester Evening News. The report recommends: Police should do more to engage with protest groups in run-up to, and during, operations like Barton Moss – with a senior officer assigned to sole role of engaging them; MP should explore the possibility of independent mediation in cases where there has been a breakdown in trust; protesters should consider adopting a set of principles surrounding behaviour to avoid demonstrators ‘crossing the line’; MP should consider inviting a nominated representative from protesting groups into the police control room during operations; GMP should provide more supporting information to keep the public informed in controversial incidents, such as “flaregate”.

Missed opportunity NetPol, the Network for Police Monitoring, describes the report as “a significant missed opportunity”. It says the panel that produced the report lacked resources to examine individual allegations of assault and “it seemed to lack the inclination to do so too.” Netpol says the report expends considerably more effort on criticism of protesters than it does on analysing different elements of the police strategy at Barton Moss. “In seeking to avoid criticising GMP in any way, it is unlikely to contribute anything towards serious reflection within the police about the way that a future protest of this kind is policed, or take any of the heat out of the fractured relationship between police and protesters in the Greater Manchester area”, Netpol adds.

Everything you need to know about the Nature Study Greenpeace Energy Desk reports on the study that suggests fracking is unlikely to prevent climate change. See link to our guest post on October 15th (below),

October 15th 2014

New study refutes lower emissions claim for fracking Guest post

Celtique Energie to appeal against refusal of planning permission to drill at Wisborough Green/Kirdford Our report and Reaction

Date set for decision on Ellesmere coal bed methane application The Shropshire Star reports councillors will decide on Friday October 24th on an application by Dart Energy to drill an exploratory borehole for coal bed methane at Dudleston Heath, near Ellesmere.

IGas unveils plans for oil and gas production at Bletchingley, Surrey Our report and Surrey Mirror coverage (29/10/14)

Texas’s Perry says fracking could generate UK jobs Governor Rick Perry of Texas says fracking offers the UK the opportunity to develop and industry and create “a number of good jobs”. His comments, reported in The Recruiter, came during the governor’s visit to the UK with a Texas economic development delegation.

Fylde council leader steps down The BBC reports that the leader of Conservative-run Fylde Council (which recently opposed planning applications by Cuadrilla) has resigned. David Eaves says he wants a younger successor to get experience before next year’s council elections.

October 14th 2014

Labour accuses the government of lackadaisical approach to fracking by relying on voluntary regulation by companies Our report

Ineos extends interest in Scottish shale with second licence. The FT reports that the Swiss-based chemicals and refining company, Ineos, has bought an 80% stake in PEDL 162, which covers 400 sq km north and west of Glasgow. In August, Ineos bought a majority stake in PEDL 133, the neighbouring licence covering 329 sq km in the Midland Valley, including the area around the company’s Grangemouth complex.

Amendment risks unintended consequences The Guardian, reporting on proposed changes to the Infrastructure Bill (see our report October 13th), quotes the Campaign to Protect Rural England as saying “This seems another example in the Infrastructure Bill where the rushing to remove obstacles has led to officials making it up as they go along, without thinking through the consequences”.

Fears for fracking at oil site Energy Voice reports concerns that fracking will be carried out Horse Hill, near Horley in Surrey. Rob Basto, from Frack Free Surrey, says: “They might be drilling for conventional oil but we believe Magellan is looking for shale gas, and although they are not fracking there, they are checking it out and it’s quite likely they could come back and frack in the future.” Mr Basto says he invited representatives from Magellan and Horse Hill Developments to attend a meeting in Horley but did not receive a response.

Wrexham councillors call for fracking ban Wrexham.com reports that Plaid Cymru councillors have called on all 52 members of Wrexham council to support a motion against fracking. The call follows a decision by the Welsh planning inspectorate to over-rule the council’s refusal of planning permission for GP Energy to test drill at Borras on the edge of Wrexham. A public meeting is planned for October 23rd.

No Fracking Northern Ireland plans public meeting on shale gas plans for north coast The Ballymoney Times reports that Rathlin Energy is due to submit an Environmental Impact assessment to the Northern Ireland Department of Environment for fracking on the north coast. Rathlin has said if it finds commercial quantities of shale gas in the area it could drill up to one thousand wells. No Fracking Northern Ireland is holding a public meeting on Thursday at Portballintrae Community Hall at 7.30pm, the paper says.

Cuadrilla invited to speak at fracking meeting The Lancashire Evening Post reports that Cuadrilla, which is applying to frack up to eight wells at two sites in the Fylde, has been invited to speak at a meeting about fracking, alongside the Unite union, Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Lancashire. The meeting is at 7.30pm on Tuesday November 4th at St John’s Minister, Church Street, Preston.

Will the home of fracking bonanza turn against its creation next month? Geoffrey Lean on the Telegraph website reports on opposition to fracking in Denton, Texas.

Fracking linked to more Ohio earthquakes Livescience.com (and others) report on a second study which connects about 400 earthquakes in Harison County in the Utica shale region to fracking wells. The report is published in Seismological Research Letters

October 13th 2014

Campaigners fear government amendment to Infrastructure Bill will allow underground disposal of fracking waste without landowners’ permission Our report

East Sussex County Council rejects call for a frack-free zone Our report Report by the Brighton Argus

Mark Carney: most fossil fuel reserves can’t be burned The Guardian reports that the governor of the Bank of England has repeated his warning that fossil fuel companies cannot burn all their reserves if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change. He called on investors to consider the long-term impacts of their decisions, the paper says.

Happy Mondays’ Bez backs East Yorkshire protests The Hull Daily Mail reports that Happy Mondays’ dancer Bez visited Rathlin Energy’s drilling sites at Crawberry Hill and West Newton. He told the paper: “I’m standing up and defending the land and making awareness about fracking. We’ve got to stop this insane technology what’s been proven to be unsafe, which is unleashed on our land and our people. It’s been done without consultation. They’re (the campaigners) doing a brilliant job. These people giving time and energy to protect the environment and planet. These people should be thanked.” Pictures from Demotix

Mr Frackhead tour of East Lancs The Lancashire Telegraph reports on the Friends of the Earth “Mr Frackhead” tour of East Lancashire, with visits to Accrington and Burnley. Helen Rimmer, north west campaigner of FOE, told the paper: “We want Lancashire County Council to say no to dirty fracking and back clean energy solutions such as solar, wind, tidal and energy efficiency, which could boost the local economy and create thousands of jobs.”

Meeting to discuss fracking The Kirkintilloch Herald reports on plans for a meeting of Bishopbriggs Community Council at which an anti-fracking campaign near Falkirk will be discussed.  The meeting is at 7pm on Tuesday October 21st.

Poll shows more New Yorkers oppose fracking EaglefordTexas.com reports that a poll by National Resources Defence Council found 56% of New Yorkers oppose fracking. A similar survey in August put opposition at 48%. The most recent poll also found 79% of New Yorkers are in favour of the current fracking moratorium, ordered in 2008 so that state agencies could evaluate the potential risks of the technique.

October 11th 2014

Global Frackdown Day – anti-fracking demonstrations across the world.
Reports from Cardiff
Posts from around the world
Bolton News report

Concerns over gas drill go-ahead in Wrexham BBC North East Wales reports opponents of drilling for gas near Wrexham will not give up their campaign after a planning inspector overturned a refusal of planning permission. (See October 10th below). Resident Luke Ashley, from North East Wales Against Fracking Action, told the BBC there were “a lot of angry people in Wrexham. He said a public meeting will be held in Wrexham later this month to discuss the implications.

Paterson says Britain’s energy needs better met by fracking and nuclear than renewablesThe Daily Telegraph reports that the former environment secretary, Owen Patterson, will make the case for shale and nuclear in a speech to Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation on Wednesday. He tells the paper: “What I am proposing is that instead of investing huge sums in wind power, we should encourage investment in four possible common sense policies: shale gas, combined heat and power, small modular nuclear reactors and demand management. Report in The Sun (15/10/14)

France cements fracking ban The Guardian reports France’s constitutional court has upheld a ban on fracking, ruling that the law against the technique “conforms to the constitution” and is not “disproportionate”. France banned fracking in 2011 and cancelled licences after protests by environmental groups. Schuepbach Energy, which held two exploration permits, complained to the court that the law was unfair. The court ruled that in imposing the ban lawmakers were pursuing a legitimate goal of protecting the environment.

October 10th 2014

Dart wins Wrexham drilling appeal IGas announces that Dart Energy has won an appeal against a refusal by Wrexham County Borough Council to grant planning permission for a coal bed methane exploration well at Commonwood Farm, Borras, near Wrexham. The company says the planning application was turned down at a meeting of the full Council in March 2014, despite a recommendation to approve it from the Council’s own Planning Officer. The Planning Inspectorate of Wales in a decision dated 8 October, has now overturned the Council’s decision, allowed the appeal and granted permission for a coal bed methane exploration well.

Wrexham.com quotes the planning inspector, Clive Neild, as saying “I consider the proposal would not be unsustainably located and that risks of it causing pollution, geological instability or subsidence would be negligible. The proposal would be in accordance with development plan and national policy.”  Plaid Cymru’s North Wales assembly member, Llyr Llyr Gruffydd, said: “This is just the opening shot in what will be a long battle to safeguard the environment and protect our communities. Fracking has no place in Borras or any other part of Wales. The next battle will be the full planning application – it’s clear that the councillors are opposed to fracking and it’s important a strong local campaign makes clear what public opinion is on this matter.”

Fracking stand-off poses threat to energy supply and jobs – CBI The Times reports comments by John Cridland, director-general of the CBI, as saying the government’s failure to secure progress on fracking poses a threat to job creation. He said one in five CBI members believe Britain’s energy security is worse than five years ago and high energy costs were affecting manufacturers’ ability to compete.

Scottish government calls in Airth planning appeal

October 9th 2014

Cuadrilla welcomes court decision on injunction and costs More details

City of York passes frack-free motion More details

Davyhulme drilling decision postponed Mancunian matters reports that Trafford Council deferred a decision on IGas plans for drilling at Davyhulme after Friends of the Earth said the Environmental Impact Assessment was inadequate. Helen Rimmer, FoE North West campaigner, said: “This raises serious concerns about the regulatory system – if Friends of the Earth hadn’t raised concerns, the flaws in this poorly assessed gas production scheme may well have been ignored.” Trafford Council said: “This application has raised a number of detailed and conflicting environmental issues and it is important that the Council acts to ensure that its decision is fully informed in relation to these matters. The application will come back to committee once we are satisfied that these issues have been addressed.” Salford Star report

NFU tells government farmers’ support cannot be taken for granted Following invitations to meet Energy Minister and DECC officials, the NFU says it made it clear that the support of the agricultural industry on fracking can’t be taken for granted. It calls for a standardised process for negotiating underground access, with agreed minimum compensation; effective regulation to minimise the impact of drilling on farmland and farming; government or industry underwriting landowner compensation and long-term liabilities.

Government ‘not recognising landowner concerns’ over fracking Farming UK reports that the Country Land and Business Association has written to Energy Minister Matthew Hancock expressing concern that the government is failing to recognise that landowner rights are being infringed by shale gas developments. The letter follows the government’s decision to allow drilling without landowners’ permission, which the CLA believes does not provide adequate protection. CLA president Henry Robinson has asked for a meeting with Mr Hancock to discuss the proposal in more detail.

IGas plans at Ellesmere Port IGas announces it expects to start drilling at Ellesmere Port next month. It says the vertical well “is the third drilled in a sequence designed to give IGas a suite of results distributed across its licenced areas in the North West.” The company also says it is working with “a number of partners on submissions for various blocks in the 14th Round of onshore licensing.

IGas production figures IGas announces onshore hydrocarbon production for the six months to the end of September was 2,766 barrels of oil equivalent per day, compared with 2,704 in 2013.

US methane “hot spot” bigger than expected A satellite monitoring study of methane emissions by NASA and the University of Michigan finds an area of 2,500 sq miles in the SW USA produces the largest concentration of methane in the country. It released emissions more than 3.5 times the volume of the equivalent area of the EU. The area on the border of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah has released 0.59 m metric tons of methane in each year from 2003-9. The lead author, Eric Kort, attributes the emissions not to fracking but to leaks in natural gas production and processing equipment in the San Juan Basin in New Mexico, which is the most active coal bed methane production area in the country. It suggests, he said “emissions from established fossil fuel harvesting techniques are greater than inventoried”. Online article

Pink drill bits – breast cancer charity partners fracking services company The US investigative reporting website, Mother Jones, reports that for the second year the breast cancer charity, Susan G Komen for the Cure, has partnered Baker Hughes, an oilfield serves company. The company has donated $100,000 and will sell 1,000 pink-painted drill bits used for fracking. Mother Jones says “The iron here is that one of the primary criticisms of fracking is that the fracking process injects possible and known carcinogens, including benzene, formaldehyde, and sulphuric acid, into the ground and surrounding environment.” The advocacy group, Breast Cancer Action, called the partnership “the most ludicrous piece of pink sh*t” they had seen all year.

Shale price falls to under $90 a barrel Shale Energy Insider reports that record amounts of shale oil is being extracted in the US but falling demand is “crippling profits and may see a decline in drilling”. The site says conventional oil can cost as little as $10 a barrel to extract in the Middle East or North Africa but shale oil ranges from $50-100 a barrels, making production unviable when prices fall too far.

October 8th 2014

Cuadrilla injunction case designed to “stop the exercise of human rights”

Cuadrilla injunction granted but judge rejects £54,000 costs claim

Cuadrilla’s injunction case back at Manchester High Court More details Reports throughout the day

Young people favour renewables over shale A YouGov poll for Talk Fracking (reported by Energy Voice) finds 18-24 year olds who are aware of fracking want the government to develop other energy sources. 44% back solar, 41% wind and 38% tidal power. Only 10% support shale gas from fracking, and 2% favour conventional gas. Shale gas came top of the least favoured energy at 45%, followed by nuclear at 37%. 71% of respondents thought fracking would cause environmental problems, 44% thought it would reduce gas prices and 60% thought it would reduce reliance on foreign gas imports.

Campaigners call for “facts not fracks” Mancunian matters reports that anti-fracking campaigners are concerned their voices are not being heard, despite collecting 1,500 signatures opposing plans to drill for gas in Davyhulme. Trafford Council’s planning committee is due to consider a proposal by IGas to extract coal bed methane on Thursday October 9th. A demonstration is planned outside Trafford Town Hall before the council meeting.

Fracking puppet visits Scottish Parliament The Scotsman reports that a 10ft Mr Frackhead puppet visited Holyrood on a tour of the UK looking for places to frack for shale gas. The event was organised by Friends of the Earth Scotland to raise awareness of the impact of fracking in Scotland. Reports by Energy Voice  and Edinburgh Reporter

October 7th 2014

David Lenigas, of Horse Hill Developments Ltd, tells BBC Radio Surrey the Horley well could produce £2bn in oil and gas – and he promises no fracking. The Horse Hill Protection Camp sets up nearby. More details

Appeal court quashes anti-fracking conviction The Manchester Evening News reports that an anti-fracking protester convicted of obstructing police after chaining his neck to a bus has had his conviction dramatically quashed. The court said Greater Manchester Police got the law wrong when they arrested activist Garry Henesy, 35, outside the IGas site at Barton Moss, a week before Christmas. The paper says police accused Mr Henesy of obstructing their efforts to move the bus, which they believed was obstructing the highway. But Barton Moss Road was a private thoroughfare and police had no duty to move the bus. Ruling there was ‘no case to answer’ and quashing the conviction, Recorder Brian Cummmings QC said: “The whole police approach was based on the belief that the road in question was a highway – unfortunately, from the point view of the police, it has now been established that Barton Moss Road, being a private road, was not and is not a highway.”

Klein says UK fracking trespass law flouts democratic rights Naomi Klein, talking to Owen Jones at a Guardian event, says ministers’ plans to rewrite the law to allow fracking under homes or land without permission flouts basic democratic rights. She said the proposal was energising resistance to fracking in Britain. The fact the government is colluding with energy companies to force the right to frack underneath people’s homes without their permission flies in the face of the most common-sense definition of democracy and self-definition.”

Pennsylvania seeks record $4.5m fine on leaking waste site The Guardian reports that regulators in Pennsylvania are pursuing a record $4.5m fine against a gas driller over what they describe as a major case of pollution from a leaking waste pit. The site in Duncan Township is run by Pittsburg-based EQT Corp. The state Department of Environmental Protection said the company had been “uncooperative” and failed “to recognise the ongoing environmental harm” from its leaking impoundment, which held wastewater from fracking. The previous US record fine of $4.15m was also sought in Pennsylvania. See September Timeline (Sept 18th).

Fracking moratorium extended in Netherlands RTV Noordoost-Friesland reports that Friends of the Earth Netherlands welcomes the extension of the moratorium on shale gas fracking in the country until early 2016. The drafting of a study on shale gas, which will decide where drilling can take place, will take longer to produce because of many reactions to it. The moratorium had been due to expire at the end of this year but will now be extended by one year, until the study is ready.

October 6th 2014

Farmers fear fracking could spell financial ruin The Daily Telegraph reports the NFU fears the value of  land above fracking sites could be reduced “because of current attitudes and perceptions of fracking” – even if no harm was actually caused. The paper says this could have serious consequences because “any reduction in the value of the land could have significant financial implications”. Farmers are also concerned that supermarkets might stop buying produce grown above fracking sites.

Cuomo administration edited and delayed fracking study A review by the Capital website finds a federal water study commissioned by the Cuomo administration was edited and delayed by state officials before it was published. An early draft, obtained by Capital through a Freedom of Information Act request was going to result in a number of politically-inconvenient conclusions as Governor Cuomo prepared to approve limited fracking. After extensive communications between the US Geological Survey and Cuomo administration officials, it appears that original descriptions of environmental and health risks associated with fracking were played down or removed.

Oil find announced at Horse Hill More details

Shropshire campaigners hit back in row over gas drilling plan The Shropshire Star reports that campaigners have hit back at Dart Energy over claims that they misunderstood an application to drill for gas in north Shropshire. The company has applied to operate an exploratory borehole for coal bed methane at Dudleston Heath, near Ellesmere. The company claims, the paper says, that it is using fracking for coal bed methane only, not shale gas. The campaigners say the application is “substantially flawed” and Dart Energy has failed to meet promises made at consultation meetings.

Ex Blackpool MP says parliament of the north should decide on local fracking The Blackpool Gazette reports that a former local MP, Harold Elleston (1992-7), is calling for a northern parliament, which would raise taxes and decide key issues. “We should be the people who decide whether fracking is safe, and if it is safe, we should be the people to benefit from it”, he tells the paper. “People are fed up with this rule from London and the South East, they are looking for something else.”

Western Australian council concerned about water contamination by fracking Shale Energy Insider reports that the Conservation Council of Western Australia has released a map produced by the WA Water Corporation revealing that gas fracking titles and acreage releases have been issued over a quarter of the state’s drinking water reserves. Conservation Council Director Piers Verstegen said “Gas fracking is one of the most toxic and polluting industries on the planet, and certainly not something we should be allowing anywhere near our precious drinking water reserves.

October 5th 2014

Picnic at Horse Hill drilling site Campaigners against drilling at Horse Hill near Horley in Surrey held a picnic and awareness-raising afternoon outside the site.

Horse Hill drill site picnic

Surrey oil hunt picks up where Esso lets go The FT reports on David Lenigas and Horse Hill Development’s drilling operation near Horley, where Esso drilled in the 1960s. Mr Lenigas tells the paper he expects to find oil and hopes to find large shale gas deposits.

Cuadrilla back in court The Blackpool Gazette and Lancashire Evening Post preview Cuadrilla’s appearance at the High Court as it seeks the extend an injunction preventing occupation of sites where it is applying for planning permission. The case, first heard, last month, resumes on Wednesday.

Campaigners say MSPs had chance to tackle fracking The Sunday Times reports that Scottish ministers are being accused of hypocrisy over their demands for more devolved powers to tackle fracking. Finance Secretary, John Swinney, called for more powers to prevent drilling under land or homes without the owners’ permission.  But anti-fracking campaigners in Scotland say ministers already have powers to prevent fracking by using devolved planning law.

October 4th 2014

Fracking drives demand for sand The Telegraph catches up on reports of a growing demand for fracking sand. (See September Fracking Timeline)

October 3rd 2014

Clegg backs shale gas fracking in East Midlands The Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg tells the BBC he backs the use of fracking for shale gas in the East Midlands.  “I don’t think we should turn our nose up at a whole new industry or technology,” he says. “New infrastructure happens from time to time, but it needs to be done carefully and not in a cavalier ‘slap-dash’ manner.  That’s why I’m proud we’ve got the tightest regulation of anywhere in the world to ensure fracking – wherever it takes place – is in an environmentally sustainable way.”

Shell suspends Russian shale oil venture The FT reports Shell has suspended its joint venture with Gazprom Neft to develop Russian shale oil. Shell said only that there were “implications for some of Shell’s current and envisaged activities in Russia”.

Maryland fracking risk assessment A draft report by regulators in Maryland finds best practice techniques will reduce the risk of water contamination from fracking to low. During the fracking stage, the report finds risk to people from truck traffic are high, and other traffic-related risks (accidents, delays, inconvenience) are moderate. Air emission risks are high-moderate, depending on extraction levels.

Gas companies disclose financial risks of fracking The Albany Business Review reports that Anadarko Petroleum Crop and EOG Resources Inc plan to report new information about hydraulic fracturing, under an agreement to inform investors about financial risks. They include risks to drinking water aquifers, use of chemicals and water, waste water handling and disposal, and air emissions.

October 2nd 2014

Fracking supporter is new DECC Chief Scientist The Department of Energy and Climate Change has appointed Professor John Loughhead, a public supporter of fracking for shale, as its new Chief Scientific Advisor More details

Oil man becomes Whitehall’s first chief exec The Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude, has appointed the former BP and Talisman Energy executive, John Manzoni, as the first chief executive for the civil service. More details

Rathlin permission extended East Riding of Yorkshire Council extends Rathlin Energy’s planning permission for its exploratory drilling site at Crawberry Hill by 18 months. More details and Report by the Driffield Times & Post

Flypast and tractor protest outside Lancashire County Council Reports on Twitter and Facebook of anti-fracking tractor protest outside County Hall in Preston, as well as a banner fly past and rally. The meeting of the full council is likely to be the last one before the planning committee decides on two applications by Cuadrilla to frack at Roseacre and Preston New Road in the Fylde. Lancashire Evening Post report

Lord Deben on fracking Lord Deben, speaking to Business Green, describes the rejection of fracking under any circumstances as untenable – but also says “the idea that it’s [fracking] a game-changer and prices will fall is absolute nonsense”.

He said: “As chairman of the CCC [Committee on Climate Change], I said there seemed to me no reason not to frack and that fracking could provide a contribution for the gas that we need and we’ve accepted we need right up to the 2030s. And I prefer that gas to come from our own sources rather than depend on others, many of whom we don’t actually want to be dependent on. The question then comes, ‘why do we turn this into a theological debate instead of the real debate’, which is what are the environmental restrictions needed to make it safe and [keep it] within our carbon budgets.”

Cracks seen in California fracking disclosure process A San Francisco Chronicle journalist, writing for SF Gate, reports that some oil companies are submitting incomplete reports to California state officials about the amount of water they use to frack  and which chemicals are involved. Other companies mistakenly assumed they could post reports to a nationwide fracking information website until California regulators told them otherwise.  The post also says the regulators don’t have enough staff to process all the reports they’ve received.

Fracking sludge in open pits unmonitored Scientific American carries a report by the Centre for Public Integrity and InsideClimate News on reports on the disposal of fracking sludge in open pits. An EPA review of oil and gas waste regulations in 27 states earlier this year found none had rules requiring regular air monitoring a commercial solid waste facilities.

October 1st 2014

Anti-fracking campaigners plan flypast The Lancashire Evening Post reports that an aircraft will tow a banner condemning shale gas exploration as county councillors gather in Preston for what is likely to be their last full council meeting before considering Cuadrilla’s two planning applications to frack in the Fylde. The flypast has been organised by Roseacre Awareness Group, which the paper says represents more than 100 residents opposed to the plans.

Baker Hughes to disclose all fracking fluid components The Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports the Houston-based oilfield services company, Baker Hughes, plans to disclose “100%” of the chemicals it uses in fracking. The list for each well will include maximum concentrations, without using trade secret designations. The company said it hopes the move will increase public trust in the fracking process.

Tamboran challenges licence termination BBC Northern Ireland reports Tamboran is planning to take legal action to challenge the termination of its petroleum exploration and development licence. The licence, granted in March 2011, ran for three years and was extended until September30th. A second extension was refused. The company is seeking judicial reviews of this decision and the rejection of planning permission for an exploratory oil well at Belcoo in County Fermanagh.

Government fracking decision puts land and home owners at risk – CLA The Country Land and Business Association, quoted by the Skegness Standard and others, says the government’s decision to allow fracking to take place below property without permission will put home and landowners at risk. The CLA says “There continues to be a lack of information from the Government regarding long-term liability. This is a vitally important issue that must be addressed before development continues further”.

Shale leads the way by 2020 Energy Voice reports on a survey by Lloyds Register Energy which suggests shale and automation will be at forefront of the oil industry within the next five years.

Ditch the 2 degrees warming goal Two professors at University of California, San Diego, writing in Nature, say average global temperature is not a good indicator of planetary health. David Victor and Charles Kennel recommend tracking a range of vital signs instead. Politically, the 2 degrees limit has allowed some governments to pretend that they are taking serious action to mitigate global warming, when in reality they have achieved almost nothing. Scientifically, there are better ways to measure the stress that humans are placing on the climate system than the growth of average global surface temperature. The best indicator, they say, is the concentrations of CO2 and the other greenhouse gases.

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