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 spuds well at Ellesmere Port; seismic testing near Chester; new drilling plans for Kent
- Ineos announces £640m investment in shale and faces community backlash
- Falling world oil prices raise doubts about shale profitability
- Eviction of protest camp at Borras, near Wrexham
- Scotland gets powers over onshore oil and gas
- Further decision delay on Cuadrilla’s Lancashire applications; judicial review of Cuadrilla’s Balcombe permission
- Adjournment debate reveals fracturing support for government shale policy
- Third Energy plans to frack in Ryedale; Rathlin announces third exploration site in East Riding
- Government hints at shale sovereign wealth fund and Infrastructure Bill clears House of Lords
- Denton Texas votes to ban fracking; UK opposition overtakes support for first time in government survey
30th November 2014
Two US shale basins now in the red Business Insider UK reports that at $66 a barrel, the Bakken and Permian Basin shale oil fields are no longer profitable, although the Eagle Ford remains in the black.
Bulgarians see Russian hand in anti-shale protests The FT reports comments by Tsvetan Tsvetanov, a former Bulgarian interior minister, who said anti-shale protests in Bulgaria in 2012 were “a well-planned scenario developed by local corporate, oligarch and economic interests connected with Russia. Other Bulgarian officials who declined to be identified also alleged Russian involvement.
Russian money suspected behind fracking protests The New York Times reports on allegations by Romanian officials that the struggle over fracking in Europe is supported by Russia. Anca-Maria Cernea, a leader of a conservative political group in Bucharest, said no documents had been uncovered proving payments to protest leaders but she said “circumstantial evidence shows that “Russians are behind the protests against Chevron” in Romania.
Saudis risk playing with fire in shale-price showdown as crude crashes The Telegraph says Saudi Arabia and Opec members are taking an immense political gamble by letting crude oil prices fall to $66 a barrel. Chris Skrebowski, former editor of Petroleum Review, said the Saudis want to cut the annual growth rate of US shale output from 1m barrels per day (bpd) to 500,000. “They want to unnerve the shale oil model and undermine financial confidence, but they won’t stop the growth altogether,” he said. Harold Hamm, from Continental Resources said: “We can produce down to $50 a barrel”. The International Energy Agency said most of North Dakota’s vast Bakken field “remains profitable at or below $42 per barrel. The break-even price in McKenzie County, the most productive county in the state, is only $28 per barrel.”
Environmental groups criticise Third Energy’s plans to look for gas in North Yorkshire. The location of Third Energy’s plans for conventional gas drilling at Ebberston Moor South in the North York Moors National Park are described as “highly sensitive” by a study commissioned by campaigners. The company wants to drill through limestone and reinject up to 3,500 barrels a day of highly saline and radioactive water into the sandstone below, reports the Independent. The study by hydrogeologist Hannah Frazer, warns of the risks to the drinking water aquifer from the borehole. These include what is described as a catastrophic pollution event, such as a blow-out or explosion, and low-level chronic release to the environment.
Falling oil prices offer the west a great chance to refashion itself Will Hutton, writing in the Observer, says the EU should take advantage of falling oil prices to push ahead with spending on infrastructure. He also says “an oil price that falls a third in a few months is a reminder of just how perilous our new world is – and how vital it is to have friends”.
Shale gas fracking under review in Tasmania ABC News reports that the 12-month moratorium on fracking in Tasmania ends in March. A review is now underway and submissions must be submitted by the end of this week. No companies have applied for a shale gas mining licence in Tasmania but the Australian company, PetraGras, was granted an exploration licence this year.
29th November 2014
Anti-fracking campaigners back in action in Kirdford and Wisborough Green The Midhurst and Petworth Observer reports that campaigners against Celtique Energie’s bid to drill near their villages are preparing for the company’s appeal against refusal of planning consent. A spokesman for the group said “We are under no illusions regarding the task we face and the hurdle we are now approaching. The deadline for comments to the planning inspectorate is December 19th.
Speed up fracking by paying affected homeowners higher compensation This is Money quotes the call by the British Chambers of Commerce to speed up fracking by offering compensation to homeowners at the market value of affected properties plus 50% on top. The BCC’s director general, John Longworth, says this would allow major projects to go ahead more quickly and provide a more rapid boost to jobs and economic recovery.
Police are over-reacting say drill campaigners News North Wales reports criticism by campaigners at the increase in police presence at the anti-fracking camp in Borras, near Wrexham. Bailiffs took five hours to evict campaigners from a protest camp on 27/11/14. Another camp established across the road and on 28/11/14 there were a large number of police vans, at least a dozen police officers and a police helicopter. One campaigner said: “It’s a total waste of time and money. I hope the taxpayer doesn’t have to foot the bill for the helicopter’s fuel. North Wales Police Chief Inspector Maxwell, said: “Until the bailiffs have completed their tasks officers will be deployed appropriately to ensure public order is maintained.”
28th November 2014
Scientists urge caution over fracking A background study used as evidence for the annual report by Sir Mark Walport, Innovation: managing risks not avoiding them, likens the risks from fracking to thalidomide, asbestos and tobacco. Authors used fracking as a case study and recommend the risk of innovation be considered, rather than rushing implementation. A careful decision-making process is proposed if shale gas extraction goes ahead. Our report on the studies
Dart Energy defends Welsh drill plans Upstream online reports Dart has rejected claims that its coal bed methane exploration plans in north Wales could desecrate the graves of a historic mining disaster (see 26th November). The company said ““the proximity to the disaster site was fully considered by Dart Energy and the relevant authorities at the time of the planning application and it was concluded that there would be no effect on the disaster zone”.
Shell admits fracking failure in Ukraine Graham Tiley, country manager of Shell Ukraine, has admitted that the company has failed to achieve the desired progress in eastern Yuzovka gas field.
27th November 2014
Scotland gets powers over onshore oil and gas The Smith Commission announces the licensing of onshore oil and gas extraction under Scotland and responsibility for mineral access rights will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Offshore licensing remains with the UK parliament. All aspects of the taxation of oil and gas receipts will remain reserved. Our report on reaction
Eviction underway at fracking protest site Wrexham.com reports that the eviction of a protest camp at Borras is currently underway. The website says police and bailiffs are at the site and campaigners are live-streaming events. The BBC reports the site was cleared by the afternoon. The site at Commonwood has been occupied for about a month since the Welsh Planning Inspectorate allowed an appeal by the Dart subsidiary GP Energy for exploratory drilling at a former quarry. Daily Post pictures and video
Group’s blast at coastal gas fracking plan The Hartlepool Mail reports that about 60 people attended the first public meeting of Seaham Action Group, a campaign to prevent extraction of coal gas under the North Sea. Co-founder, Maureen James, told the paper: “I have been trying hard to find out what is going to happen to our coastline, but it’s difficult. “There is no transparency. If this was such a clean and green form of energy, why all the secrecy?” The campaigners believe Five Quarter and Cluff Natural Resources want to extract coal gas. The two companies accuse campaigners of being alarmist. The chair of Five Quarters, Dr Harry Bradbury, said he would answer questions from members of the public during the first week of December. Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ineos facing fracking backlash The Falkirk Herald quotes a response of Concerned Communities of Falkirk to the Ineos announcement that it planned to invest £640m in shale gas extraction. Mark Williams of the organisation said: “There is growing determination within Scottish communities to resist unconventional gas developments while potentially serious risks to public health and the local environment remain unassessed.”
Oil plunges as Opec tests the mettle of US shale industry The FT reports the Opec meeting in Vienna kept its output ceiling at 30m barrels a day, sending the oil price falling by more than 8% to a four-year low. The price of crude oil has fallen nearly 40% since mid-June, reaching $71.25 after the OPEC announcement. The FT says many in the industry think it has further to fall, possibly below $60 in the first half of next year. $40 a barrel is regarded as the break-even point for the lowest cost US shale oil. By resisting calls for a cut, Saudi Arabia, Optec’s largest producer and effective leader, appeared to be hunkering down for a long period of low prices, hoping that would squeeze US shale operators and drive out the highest-cost producers, the FT says.
OPEC policy ensures US shale crash, Russian tycoon Leonid Fedun, vice president of OAO Lukoil, tells Bloomberg at prices of just over $70 a barrel, drilling is close to becoming unprofitable for some US shale producers. “In 2016, when OPEC completes this objective of cleaning up the American marginal market, the oil price will start growing again,” he said. “The shale boom is on a par with the dot-com boom. The strong players will remain, the weak ones will vanish.” Telegraph story and Business Insider
Shale oil is disaster – Venezuela Reuters quotes the Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez at the OPEC meeting in Vienna: “The U.S. is producing in a very, very bad manner. The shale oil, I mean it is a disaster from the point of view of climate change.”
Five earthquakes in four days: is spate of Texas earthquakes connected to fracking? The Centre for Research on Globalization reports that the city of Irving in Texas has experienced five earthquakes ranging from 3.3 to 2.2 on the Richter scale. Residents and city leaders are blaming the injection of fracking waste, the Centre says.
Hancock’s Half Hour Energy Minister, Matthew Hancock, talks to The House Magazine about fracking: Lib Dem cold feet, the PR war, increased protection for National Parks, energy security, regulation and timescales.
26th November 2014
Further consultation on Cuadrilla’s Lancashire fracking plans. Decision to be made on two sites by January 31st 2015 Our report Report in the Lancaster Guardian and Ormskirk and Skelmersdale Advertiser
Human rights report delivered to Downing Street Bianca Jagger delivers a report to the Prime Minister on the human rights implications of fracking and calls for a moratorium until the issue is better researched and understood. Picture and background
Fracking would desecrate the graves of 255 miners buried in pit tomb claim campaigners The Mirror reports that Dart Energy’s plans to drill for coal bed methane at a disused colliery at Borras near Wrexham is on the site of one of the country’s worst mining disasters. Campaigners say the graves of miners killed in the accident could be desecrated if the exploratory well went ahead. Neighbours say any drilling or fracking near the burial site would be an insult. GP energy, a subsidiary of Dart, was refused permission by Wrexham Council but the decision was overturned by the Welsh Planning Inspectorate.
IGas Energy Plc publishes half year results IGas figures for the six months to September 30th show revenue and profits are down compared with last year. Revenue was £34.5m (36.2m for same period in 2013); gross profit was £12.5m (16.4m 2013), underlying profit before tax £1.1m (£6.1m in 2013). Cash and cash equivalents at period end were £298.1m (15.4m 2013), net debt was £80.8m (80.4m 2013).
Extra information on IGas CEO’s share deal A statement from IGAS says under an agreement with Equities First Holdings, Andrew Austin transferred 7.5m shares, for which he received £7,009,533, equivalent to 93.46 per share. “Mr Austin both fully intends and is required to repurchase all of these shares at the end of the three year term by repaying the facility at a cost of £7,899,870, equivalent to 105.33p per share. IGas confirmed for the first time that the agreement was a sale and repurchase agreement. Mr Austin bought 300,000 shares at 135.38p a share. IGas share opened this morning at 56.00p. Background
Lancashire fracking surveys The Lancashire Evening Post reports a “war of words” has broken out over results of public opinion surveys about fracking. A poll for Greenpeace UK by Redshift Research of 500 Lancashire residents found 63% wanted fracking to be banned and 69% wanted more time for public debate before councils decided on drilling plans. Local voters were three times more likely to back an anti-fracking candidate than one who was in favour. Cuadrilla said a poll last month for Johnston Press of over 6,000 Lancashire Evening Post readers found that 57% thought shale gas should progress.
Anti-fracking protest to take place in Preston on Lancashire Day BlogPreston.co.uk reports that anti-fracking groups are marking Lancashire Day (27th November 2014) with a protest outside County Hall against Cuadrilla’s plans to frack at two sites in the county. Pam Foster, from Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, said: “Lancashire offers some of the UK’s finest scenery and our coastline attracts millions of visitors every year. The combined estuaries of the region are recognised as being one of the most important assemblies of estuaries in Europe for migrating birds. All of this is under threat from the ‘dash for gas’.” Lancaster Guardian report and picture
Hundreds protest over fracking The Kirkintilloch Herald reports hundreds of people attended a meeting about fracking, organised by Bishopbriggs Community Council. Speakers included Green MSP Patrick Harvie, and Tom Pickering, a director at the petrochemical company, Ineos, in Grangemouth. A member of Don’t Frack the Briggs said: “By far, the loudest answer given by their Ineos representative on the night was ‘we have no immediate plans for unconventional gas extraction’. Seven hours later, they pledged to plough £640million into the UK Shale gas industry. So whilst they promoted community engagement on the issue, they managed to leave out this minute detail.”
Oppose fracking in Calderdale says Labour The Labour group on Calderdale Council tells the Yorkshire Post it is asking council officers to “take all possible steps” to protect the area’s environment and people from problems arising from fracking. Third Energy announced it would apply for permission to carry out the first fracking in Yorkshire at a site near Malton. Councillor Dan Sutherland, who has tabled the motion, said: “Whilst we must consider any specific application on its merits, we think the time is right to set out our general position. We also want to ask officers to work now on developing the council’s policies and understanding, so that we have the right framework in place to respond to any future proposals that may arise.”
Oil price fall starts to weigh on banks The FT reports that banks including Barclays and Wells Fargo are facing potentially heavy losses on an $850m loan made to help fund the merger of two US companies, Sabine Oil and Gas and Forest Oil. The paper says they are unable to offload the loan to investors and are now facing losses on the deal as the value of the two companies’ debt erodes with falling oil prices.
Top investors warn of revolt over new BG Group chief’s pay deal The FT reports that the multi-million pound package for Helge Lund, incoming chief executive of BG Group, has run into opposition from shareholders who are threatening to vote against. They include four of BG’s 15 institutional investors.
Cheap energy is the new cheap labour The FT reports on how the US has benefited from cheap energy from shale. Cheap gas is helping to bring manufacturing home, it says, but also cheap gas is luring energy-intensive industries such as chemicals, petrochemicals and steel. In the long run, making fossil fuels more expensive by charging for carbon emissions could bring the EU a steady supply of clean cheap energy. But at the moment it is giving European companies an incentive to relocate.
Industry view of shale Richard Warren of the Engineering Employers’ Federation, writing on the TUC’s Touchstone blog, says: “Shale gas isn’t a panacea for all our economic woes or the doom laden energy source it is often portrayed as, but if we can bring communities on board and ensure the risks are effectively managed, it represents an opportunity that the UK would be foolish to ignore.”
Farming focus on fracking NFU Scotland reports that 80 members from central Scotland attended a meeting on unconventional oil and gas. Speakers included a representative from the Scottish Government’s oil and gas team, the prospective developer Ineos, the regulator Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, solicitors Gillespie McAndrew and NFU Mutual insurers. Farmers affected are advised to take expert legal advice when negotiating contracts for access to land and consider engaging an independent land agent, NFU Scotland says.
Industry blames college voters for Denton fracking ban The Texas Tribune reviews the results of the vote in Denton on banning fracking. Nearly 59% voted in favour of the ban, even though opponents spent far more money. Opponents of the ban argued that college students disproportionately affected the vote, in effect “drowning out permanent residents”.
25th November 2014
Lancashire Tory MPs warn ministers: strengthen fracking regulations and improve community benefits or risk our support for shale policy Our report of adjournment debate on fracking Transcript of debate Energy Voice report Lewes Against Fracking report
CLA calls for clarity over fracking liability The Country Land and Business Association is urging the government to “provide landowners with clarity” over fracking liability. CLA president Henry Robinson said: “We now need the Government to ensure landowners are fully aware of their rights when it comes to environmental damage.” Mr Robinson is due to meet Energy Minister, Matthew Hancock on 27th November.
Countryside group calls for government protection from shale oil and gas The Countryside Alliance, in a report on shale gas, calls for government funding to ensure shale gas extraction does not cause “irrevocably damage to the countryside and rural communities”. Five recommendations in the report:
- Update planning policies to address the issue of shale operations;
- Encourage industry to invest in technology to promote efficient use of land and minimise the number of surface locations;
- Target brownfield sites and existing wells and avoid protect areas;
- Provide adequate resources to ensure licensed areas are closely supervised by government and local authorities
- Before issuing licences, DECC should assess companies’ ability to cover potential liabilities and remediation for damage for shale operations
Third Energy applies for permission to frack well in Ryedale, N Yorks A statement by Third Energy says it is applying for permission to frack the KM8 gas well at Kirby Misperton. Rasik Valand, chief executive of Third Energy, said: “Our analysis indicates that there could be a significant new gas reservoir in our North Yorkshire licence area”. Third Energy’s residents’ brochure
The Telegraph reports that Third Energy is 97% owned by Barclays Natural Resource Investments, the bank’s private equity division. The well is under a mile from Kirby Misperton, well-known as the site of Flamingo World. Anne McIntosh, Conservative MP for the Thirsk and Malton constituency which covers the site, raised concerns that tourism to the area could be affected.
In the Yorkshire Post, Mrs McIntosh said the company had previously told her it had no intention of fracking in Ryedale. Third Energy responded: “Third Energy has given a commitment about not fracking in the North York Moors National Park. “This does not apply to Kirby Misperton, which is not in the national park.” BBC News report
Crawberry Hill anti-fracking campaigners consider appeal over guilty verdicts for obstruction The Hull Daily Mail reports that Samantha Atkins, Sarah Hockey, Thomas Burke, Richard Howarth and Christopher Ridden, convicted of obstruction on Monday for their protest outside Rathlin Energy’s drilling site, are considering an appeal. They told Beverley Magistrates Court they could not hear the final warning from police and would have moved from outside the Crawberry Hill entrance if they had. Defence solicitor, Richard Brigden, compared the protest to a “teddy bear’s picnic” and accused police of using unnecessary force.
Oil nations fail to halt fall in crude The FT reports that the price of oil fell by more than $1 a barrel after a meeting of some of the world’s largest oil-producing nations failed to reach agreement on how to address a growing supply glut. The paper says the lack of consensus led to a sell-off in the oil market with ICE January Brent falling $1.35 to $78.33 a barrel.
BG pay deal “excessive and inflammatory” says IoD The Guardian reports on comments by the Institute of Directors that the £25m pay deal promised to the Helge Lund, new head of the oil and gas group BG, will damage the reputation of corporate Britain. The IOD urged shareholders to block the proposed package, describing it as a “red rag to the enemies of the free market”.
Action to invalidate Broomfield fracking ban The Denver Post reports that the Colorado Oil and Gas Association filed a complaint seeking to invalidate Broomfield’s five year ban on fracking, narrowly approved by voters last year. COGA’s president, Tisha Schuller, said: “A ban on oil and gas development is clearly a violation of state law regulating oil and gas”.
Shale wells become leading sources of US natural gas The Pittsburgh Business Times reports shale gas well accounted for more gas production than any other type of well in 2013 for the first time. US Energy Information Administration figures show shale gas provided 40% of gas last year, abou3 33bcf per day. Texas (largest shale producer), Pennsylvania (2nd largest), Louisiana and Arkansas accounted for 79% of US shale production.
24th November 2014
Facebook campaign launches: Tell your MP to Bin the Bill Anti-fracking campaigners are urging people to ask their MPs to oppose the Infrastructure Bill, now going through the House of Commons. Facebook campaign page
Cuadrilla applies for environmental permit The Environment Agency announces Cuadrilla Elswick Ltd has applied for a mining waste permit for its proposed shale gas exploration site at Roseacre Wood, in the Fylde in Lancashire. A consultation on the application runs until 6th January 2015. The EA tells the Lancashire Evening Post it is minded to grant the permit, the second applied for by Cuadrilla in Lancashire. BBC Lancashire report
Environment Agency confirms ban on injecting fracking waste water Greenpeace Energy Desk reports that the EA has confirmed “the re-injection of flowback fluids at shale gas wells is not allowed”. The Agency said “There is a distinction between reinjection for conventional oil and gas activities, such as at Wytch Farm, and reinjection from unconventional activities, such as from shale gas operations. For conventional activities, we would allow operators to reinject produced water into the formation from which it was generated to facilitate production. For shale gas operations, the disposal method for flow-back fluid will be agreed between the operator, their contractors and us.”
Anti-fracking campaigners convicted Five campaigners accused of obstructing the highway outside Rathlin Energy site at Crawberry Hill in East Yorkshire are found guilty after a three-day trial at Beverley Magistrates Court. The Grimsby Telegraph reports that the group sat in the middle of Newbald Road near the site entrance when a lorry tried to get access. Forty other protesters were singing loudly was police officers warned protesters they would be arrested if they did not move. The chairman of the magistrates said “We are satisfied the police acted reasonably and the defendants acted unreasonably. All five were given 12-month conditional discharges and ordered to pay £315 each. Statement by the campaigners on Hull Daily Mail website Facebook post
Wrexham anti-fracking protesters in anxious wait for bailiffs The Daily Post reports that dozens of campaigners expect bailiffs to evict them from their protest camp near Commonwood Farm in Borras, near Wrexham. The landowners, Terence Andrew Jones and Terence Neal Jones, secured an order in Manchester High Court for the land to be vacated before midnight on 21st November. The campaigners are adamant will not back down. Wrexham Council’s decision to refuse GP Energy permission for drilling at the site was overturned by the Welsh Planning Inspectorate.
MP Owen Paterson welcomes fracking drill plan The Shropshire Star reports that the North Shropshire MP, Owen Paterson, welcomes Government plans to drill hundreds of bore across the country (See Observer story of 22nd November). He tells the paper “I am strongly in favour of fracking. It really is important to convince people. There is absolutely no way we are cutting corners or cutting down the rigour of our environmental regulation, and done properly there is nothing to fear.”
Majority of newspaper readers favour UK ban on fracking A poll by the Canterbury Times of 600 readers finds 55% thought fracking should be banned in the UK. 39% thought it should be banned in Kent. Just over 5% thought it should not be banned and nearly 1% thought they did not know enough about fracking to make a fair decision, the paper says.
NGOs seek rulemaking to reduce fracking emissions The International Law Office website reports that 100+ environmental groups have signed a petition to the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior, seeking to address emissions of air pollutants from fracking operations. The petition states that the EPA has the power to regulate emissions under the Clean Air Act and the Department of the Interior could regulation emissions on public land.
Small quake shakes Dallas Power Source reports that a “light earthquake” of 3.3 shook the Dallas-Ft Worth area of North Texas on Saturday. It caused no damage or casualties, the website said, but stirred concern about the potential of the fracking industry to generate seismic activity. Comments on Twitter indicate the quake was felt across the region. Sharon Wilson, of Earthworks, an advocacy group, “We are guinea pigs in the middle of this fracking experiment. Texas homes are built to withstand wind, not earthquakes”.
Fracking in Scotland – the RSPB’s position A blog by Alexa Morrison, Conservation Policy Officer at RSPB Scotland looks at unconventional gas proposals in Scotland and that the organisation has done so far to respond to fracking.
23rd November 2014
Is Ineos’ fracking talk just an elaborate bluff? Lesley Riddoch, writing for the Sunday Post, asks why the petro-chemical company Ineos seems to be buying into a Scottish shale gas industry with no prospect of making money. She says critics suggested the announcement was a carefully-worded bluff, which could mean Ineos will spend as little as a fiver, not the £640m announced. They say Ineos is talking big to justify Government support – a £230m loan guarantee to finance an import terminal.
Carbon capture faces viability struggle The Canadian company spear-heading CCS tells the FT the technology at the heart of efforts to avoid global warming will struggle to be economically viable in many places. SaskPower confirmed that the financial viability of its commercial-scale CCS project at a coal power plant in Saskatchewan is underpinned by a 10-year deal to sell the captured CO2 to another company, Cenovus Energy, so that the gas can be injected into nearby aging oilfields to boost flagging recovery rates. Power companies in places without suitable oil fields nearby will not be able to strike similar deals for some time, the company said.
Shale jubilation fades as oil price falls undercut model The FT quotes Eric Otto, CLSA analyst, who says the US shale industry will have to adjust to a new reality of lower oil prices. The paper says: “The shale oil boom proved an escape route for gas producers that were under financial strain. It does not look as if there is anything that can provide a refuge for oil producers in the same way. The coming year is set to test how durable the US shale revolution really is.”
Colreavy calls on parties to unite against fracking Sinn Fein’s energy spokesperson, Michael Colreavy, said all parties must support a ban on fracking on the island of Ireland, according to the Leitrim Observer. “Parties from across the political spectrum and Independents have worked together on local councils to insert a ban on fracking in their local development plans. The same actions need to be repeated at a national level to ensure that fracking is not allowed on the island of Ireland”, he said.
Time for Tamboran to go, say Love Leitrim The Lietrim Observer reports on a meeting in the Irish Dail to discuss fracking in the Lough Allen Basin. Fianna Fail confirmed it was unequivocally against fracking. Other speakers included Eddie Mitchell, of Love Leitrim, a campaign group opposed to Tamboran Resource’s plans for drilling at Belcoo. He said fracking was attempting to come to Ireland via the back door, using Northern Ireland.
Judge denies bid to halt Illinois fracking rules The Herald News in St Louis reports that Madison County Circuit Judge, Barbara Crowder, has rejected a bid by a group of landowners to suspend the state’s new rules for fracking. She said the group had failed to show they would suffer immediate harm if fracking was allowed to go ahead. Chicago Tribune report
Anti-fracking groups want permits revoked at 23 Ohio sites Times Reporter.com says two environmental groups are seeking to revoke permits granted to 23 facilities that store, handle, process or recycle fracking waste. They say the approvals bypassed the official rule-making process by using the Ohio Department of Natural Resources “chief’s orders”. They say these are “fatally unlawful” and want “chief’s orders” issued to date to be revoked.
Where oil and politics mix Long-form journalism from Deborah Sontag of the New York Times on growing anxiety in North Dakota about fracking, following an unusual land deal, a giant spill and a tanker-train explosion.
22nd November 2014
Taxpayers to fund hundreds of fracking boreholes across the country The Observer reports that hundreds of publicly-funded boreholes will be drilled to monitor for possible water pollution or earthquakes caused by fracking. Professor Mike Stephenson, director of science and technology at the British Geological Survey, says: “We will be taking the pulse of the sub-surface environment and will reveal if things are going wrong, but also if they are going right. The aim is to reassure people that we can manage the sub-surface safely.”
Anti-drilling campaigners get ready for winter at Shropshire camp About six campaigners opposed to drilling at Dudleston Heath near Ellesmere are sitting it out at their make-shift camp until the meeting of Shropshire Council on December 16th, the Shropshire Star reports.
Ban fracking – part of the People’s Vow of Radical Independence Campaign More than 3,000 people attend the Radical Independence Campaign conference in Glasgow. Co-founder, Cat Boyde, tells the BBC the movement is launching a People’s Vow, which includes ending fracking before it takes hold.
Anti-fracking rally Frack Free Billingshurst in West Sussex organised an anti-fracking car rally in protest at exploratory drilling at Celtique Energie’s Broadford Bridge site, due to start next month. 40 vehicles, displaying banners, placards and black and yellow balloons, drove in slow convoy past the site, the organisation said. Video West Sussex County Times report.
Erin Brockovich slams oil industry’s use of unlined disposal pits Dan Cacher, of IndyBay.org reports that environmental activist Erin Brockovich, is speaking out about the use of unlined pits to dispose of waste fluid produced by oil and gas companies using fracking. The report says 432 unlined pits are currently being used in the Central Valley of California and most have been operating with out-of-date permits or no permits at all. On her Facebook page, Brockovich points out the irony of the widespread use of water during a historic drought: “I am thankful California has so much water to spare it can just waste it in our oil fields.”
19 shale plays in US no longer profitable Eaglefordtexas.com reports the list of unprofitable shale plays include popular drilling areas including Eaglebine, the Tuscaloose marine Shale and parts of the Eagle Ford. Crude prices off $75 a barrel are likely to stay for another four months, according to Goldman Sachs, the website says. It quotes Daniel Dicker, president of MercBloc Wealth Management Solutions: “Everybody is trying to put a very happy spin on their ability to weather $80 oil, but a lot of that is just smoke. The shale revolution doesn’t work at $80, period.”
21st November 2014
Falkirk environmental groups want fracking and gas plans put on hold The Falkirk Herald reports community groups in the town have teamed up with activities across the country to call for a halt to new gas developments. The alliance has sent an open letter to the Scottish Government calling for a moratorium on all unconventional gas extraction developments. This includes proposals by Cluff Natural Resources for underground coal gasification.
Give Scotland fracking controls, says poll A poll of 1,000 people commissioned by Scottish Greens finds 66% of Scots questioned want fracking licences to be decided by the Scottish Parliament, not Westminster. 18% said control should remain with Westminster and 16% said they didn’t know. When asked who should have the final say over whether to give companies the right to drill below 600m without the landowners consent, 66% said this should be the Scottish Parliament. 20% said this should remain with Westminster and 14% didn’t know (percentages have been rounded.) Report in Holyrood magazine
Wrexham anti-fracking campaigners given midnight deadline to clear protest camp The Daily Post reports campaigners against fracking lost a case at Manchester High Court yesterday (20/11/14) to stop bailiffs evicting them from Borras Community Protection Camp at Commonwood Farm. The paper says the protesters haven’t revealed whether they will comply with the order. Marc Jones, of Frack Free Wrexham, said the judge granted permission to stay on the site until 11.59pm on Friday 21st. The camp was established after Wrexham Council’s decision to refuse proposals to drill for gas were overturned by the Planning Inspectorate for Wales. Reports from News North Wales and Wrexham.com
Parliament publishes Infrastructure Bill to be discussed by House of Commons View here
Fracking is safe. Radiation is harmless. And pigs have wings Dr David Lowry, writing in the Ecologist, says the Ineos chairman, the Environment Secretary, the Environment Agency and its former chairman all have a blind spot about the risks of fracking. The article picks out the risks of radon gas released by fracking and the chemicals used in fracking fluid.
China shale boom fizzles as clean energy and imports take spotlight Bloomberg reports that China’s shale boom may be fizzling out before it even gets going. China has cut its output target for the end of the decade to a third of earlier estimates. Difficult geology, lack of infrastructure and limited exploration rights are conspiring against shale gas ambitions. Big gas import deals, lower oil price and China’s commitment to clean energy are also to blame.
20th November 2014
Ineos announces £640m investment in shale The chemicals company Ineos, which runs the Grangemouth petrochemicals plant and refinery at Grangemouth, has announced plans to invest up to £640m in shale gas exploration in the UK. Chairman Jim Ratcliffe said he wanted Ineos to become the biggest company in the British shale gas industry. Reports of the announcements at FT, BBC, Energy Voice Our report on reaction
Jim Ratcliffe’s big problem is footloose environmentalists – FT Jonathan Guthrie says the Ineos boss, Jim Ratcliffe faces the challenge of higher population density in the UK in his quest to exploit shale gas. But “his bigger problem”, Guthrie writes, is footloose environmentalists. “These roam the UK seeking diggers to chain themselves to. But Mr Ratcliffe is a tough opponent. Ineos dodged bankruptcy during the financial crisis. Last year he bloodied the noses of Scottish trade unionists in a dispute over the Grangemouth chemicals plant.”
Poll finds higher opposition to fracking in Scotland The FT reports the results of a YouGov survey, commissioned by Ineos, which found opposition to fracking in Scotland was higher than in north west England. Even with the promise of community consultation and 6% of revenues going to communities and property owners, only 43% of Scottish respondents backed fracking, the poll found. This compared with 50% in north west England.
UK pledges £720m to climate change fund for poor countries Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, tells The Guardian Britain will face disaster if it adopts an “isolationist approach to the environment. Speaking on the eve of an announcement that the UK would give £720m to the UN’s Green Climate Fund, Mr Davey said the Prime Minister should be more robust in challenging climate change sceptics on the Tory right. The Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, draws parallels between the UK donation and the amount Ineos plans to invest in shale gas (spool through our report on reaction to the Ineos investment to see Dr Lucas’ statement).
IGas Energy PLC jump on positive news The Motley Fool reports that IGas share rose to 58.4p on news of the Ineos investment. (It’s low on 18/11/14 was 48.6). But the site’s Rupert Hargreaves says: “Unless the company makes a huge find soon, it could be some time before IGAS’s shares look to be good value for money”. It adds: “For the time being, IGAS’s future is uncertain and the one thing to remember is that oil minnows can make you rich but they can also make you poor.
Adjournment debate on fracking planned Former Home Office Minister, Norman Baker, has an adjournment debate on fracking on Tuesday 25th November in Westminster Hall at 9.30am Details
Glasgow academic denies financial interest in paper on fracking The Times Higher Educational Supplement reports that Professor Paul Younger, of Glasgow University, has dismissed claims that he should have declared his financial interest in an energy company in a recent paper on fracking. Professor Younger co-authored a report in the Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, calling for more relaxed regulations on shale gas extraction. He said the traffic-light system for earthquakes was too strict. He was accused of a conflict of interest when campaigners said he was a founder and non-executive director of Five Quarter, a company specialising in unconventional gas extraction. He said the accusation was “beyond risible”.
Fracking in Scotland? The Lancet reports health impacts Touchstone, a blog from the TUC, reports on Mike Hill’s short article in the Lancet in June summarising reports on the relationship between fracking and birth defects. Our report
Scaremongering delaying exploration for shale in the UK, says Dr Nick Riley of consultancy Carboniferous In an interview with BBC Radio Kent, Dr Riley accused anti-fracking campaigners of scaremongering by misunderstanding the conclusions of reports. Julie Wassmer, of East Kent against Fracking, rebutted his view, saying families in the US whose water had been contaminated were required to sign non-disclosure agreements in a settlement with drilling companies. She said the government had over-sold shale gas a solution to the UK energy system.
19th November 2014
Tamboran to sue Stormont departments over thwarted Fermanagh drilling plans The Belfast Telegraph reports that lawyers for Tamboran revealed in the High court in Belfast it is seeking damages against the Northern Ireland government. The company is taking a case for lost profits against the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment and the Department of Environment. The company was prevented from exploratory drilling at a former quarry site in Belcoo. Planning permission was refused by the Environment Minister and then the Enterprise Minister refused to grant an extension to the company’s licence. Irish News report
Energy groups face “existential” climate threat, says ex-BP chief Lord Browne, former head of BP and current chair of Cuadrilla, tells the FT that energy and mining companies are ignoring the “existential threat” from climate change and must change the way they operate. The paper says he told a seminar in London on 18th November that the scientific evidence of global warming should be treated as settled. But he said “This conclusion is not accepted by many in our industry because they do not want to acknowledge an existential threat to their business”.
What the Frack Vice News posts a trailer for an upcoming documentary filmed near Blackpool, where Cuadrilla wants to frack at two news sites.
CLA claims victory over fracking liability The Country Land and Business Association says a government amendment has been added to the Infrastructure Bill, to be debated again today, confirming landowners will not be liable for damage from fracking. The CLA still has concerns about the bill’s clause allowing drilling below 300m without the owners’ consent and the presumption that geothermal heat could be extracted without the need for permission. Our update on the Infrastructure Bill
Fracking could help boost UK fertiliser production Farmers Guardian reports on a study by the pro-fracking group the North West Energy Task Force which suggests that shale gas would boost food production. “Ultimately it would allow UK farmers to meet increased global demand for good”, the study said. Debbie Baker, of fertiliser manufacturer, GrowHow, said “As gas is our primary raw material, it determines our sustainability as a business”. But Lancashire farmer, Tony Holden, tells Farmers Guardian: “Even if we fracked the whole of the UK we would only get 5 per cent of the UK’s energy needs. So how it will help fertiliser production I don’t know. This is an incorrect statement.”
US Senate fails to get enough support for Keystone XL oil pipeline Backers of the Keystone XL pipeline, which could carry 830,000 barrels a day from Alberta to the US Gulf Coast, failed yesterday (18/11/14) to get the 60 votes needed to send a bill to President Obama. All 45 Senate Republicans voted for the bill, joined by 14 Democrats. The supporters said they will try again in January, when the Republicans could have 54 members in the Senate, if a by-election goes their way.
Harvie urges Sturgeon to toughen up on fracking Green Party MSP Patrick Harvey tells Scotland’s new First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to take a tougher stand against fracking. “If Nicola Sturgeon wants to reflect what Scotland’s communities are thinking she would do well to say no thanks to fracking and instead focus on clean technology investment and energy efficiency”, he says.
US fracking is biggest red herring in history of oil Jeremy Grantham, the UK founder of the $130 bn Boston-based GMO Asset Management, says the US shale boom has failed to prevent the underlying costs of traditional oil from rising or from prevent a squeeze on cash flow. The costs of fracking have been underestimated and understated, he told reneweconomy.com “Clearly, the writing is on the wall. It is now up to our leadership and to us as individuals to read it and act accordingly.”
Community urged to fight fracking Fife Today reports campaigners against fracking are urging people living in and around Methil in Fife to unite against local fracking projects. Algy Cluff, of Cluff Natural Resources, visited Methil in December to promote underground coal gasification. No planning applications for UCG have been submitted in the Largo Bay area.
Fracking water consumption under-estimated Shale Energy Insider reports on a new study which looked at water consumption at 261 fracking wells in Texas, Pennsylvania and Colorado from 2010-13. The study, by the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit health and environment organisation, found total water consumption amounted to +3bn gallons. About two-thirds of the wells were in areas with a water shortage. Bill Walker, co-author of the report and EWG consultant, said: “The amount of water used in these wells is staggering, the water used to frack a single ‘monster well’ could meet the water needs of a drought-stricken county in Texas twice over.”
Nine new anti-fracking groups set up in Ryedale The Gazette and Herald reports anti fracking groups have been established in recent weeks in Pickering, Kirkbymoorside, Malton, Helmsley, Terrington, Hovingham, Gilling, Sheriff Hutton and Great Edstone. Chris Redston, communications director of Frack Free Ryedale, said that the local groups will be helping to spread awareness of the issue of fracking and how Ryedale could be potentially affected by it in the future.
18th November 2014
Cuadrilla’s Chief Executive quits role as Whitehall business adviser Lord Browne is leaving halfway through his second term as one of the most senior business figures in government, the BBC and others report. He joined the Cabinet Office in 2010 to advise civil servants on efficiency. He also appointed the heads of Centrica and Kingfisher to sit on management boards overseeing 16 government departments. Lord Browne will leave in January 2014, saying “I have achieved what I wanted to achieve”. FT report
Weir stock falls amid concerns over shale operation The Herald Scotland reports shares in Weir Group, the Glasgow-based supplier to the oil industry, fell to their lowest levels in more than two years after a broker downgraded the company. This follows concerns over the impact of falling oil prices on shale gas operations in North America, where Weir Group is a big supplier of equipment, such as valves, pumps and compressors.
Failed attempt to serve court summons on fracking protesters Frack-Free Wrexham tells Wrexham.Com it will intensify resistance to plans to drill for gas near Borras after an attempt was made to serve a court summons. The group established the Borras and Holt Protection Camp at Commonwood Farm over the past month. Bailiffs visited the camp on 17th November, the website reports, to serve a summons to appear in court in Manchester on Thursday (November 20th). But there’s a report that the papers were not served correctly. A spokesperson said: “It says a lot that they’re not even using a court in Wales for this. We will continue to fight to uphold democratic decisions made locally in Wrexham and uphold the will of the community, which is against fracking and endangering the environment and local people.” Plaid Cymru in Wrecsam report that the campaigners have asked for an adjournment in the court hearing.
Anti-fracking letter to Downing Street Anti-fracking campaigner, Gayzer Frackman, delivers a letter to 10 Downing Street at the start of his walk to Brussels. The walk aims to raise awareness of Mr Frackman’s concerns about the process.
Infrastructure Bill, trespass, and fracking A video by Sussex farmer, Beki Adam, looks at the wording of clauses and amendments in the Infrastructure Bill on maximising economic recovery, underground access rights and storage of substances in deep level land.
Fracking to be permitted in George Washington National Forest ABC News reports that a federal management plan released this morning will allow fracking in the largest US national forest on the east coast, despite objections from environmentalists and a state governor. The US Forest Service originally planned to ban fracking the 1.1m acre GW National Forest but energy companies complained this would be the first ban in a national forest. The plan will now allow drilling on 167,000 acres where there are private mineral rights and about 10,000 acres that are already leased to oil and gas companies.
Boulder County to side with Longmont in fracking ban EagleFordTexas.com reports that Boulder County Commissioners have authorised the county attorney’s office to side with Longmont in its legal battle over the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s challenge to the fracking ban approved by voters.
UK strikes carbon deal with Canada Energy Voice reports that the UK government has signed an agreement with Canada to work together on research and knowledge sharing for Carbon Capture and Storage. Minister of State for Energy, Matthew Hancock, said: “Carbon capture and storage could help us tackle climate change. “I welcome the fact that the UK and Canada will be working together to advance the technology. Our agreement is an important step forward for the carbon capture and storage sector, and I look forward to further UK-Canada cooperation.” The UK has proposed CCS projects at the Drax power station near Selby in Yorkshire and at Peterhead in Aberdeenshire.
Air quality in Eagle Ford shale needs monitoring KSAT.com reports on research by the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University which found concentrations of hydrocarbon emissions from shale are constant and heavy enough to be noticed by residents. “People who smell it, live close to it, and may be screaming loudly about it, they are not wrong, they are just loud,” said researcher Dr Gunner Schade. He said many of the hydrocarbons are not dangerous but continued exposure can have long-term effects.
17th November 2014
Ellesmere Port well spudded A statement by IGas says the company spudded (started drilling) its vertical exploration well at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire on 15th November. Shale Energy Insider says this is IGas’ third UK shale gas well at Ellesmere Port.
Barton Moss anti-fracking protest cases postponed The Salford Star reports that the remaining court cases arising from protests at the Barton Moss exploration site have been postponed until the New Year. The online magazine says the decision follows investigations at the IGas site. It adds “There is in place a court ban on the media elaborating on this.”
Professor David Smythe contacts Lancashire County Council about Cuadrilla’s test drilling applications StopFyldeFracking.org.uk publishes a letter and presentation by David Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics at Glasgow University, summarising his technical objections to Cuadrilla’s applications at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood. His letter says the Environment Agency “does not seem to be up to the job of properly scrutinising” applications.
Date for Dart drilling decision The Shropshire Star reports that Dart’s planning application for an exploratory coal bed methane well at Dudleston Heath near Ellesmere will be decided on Tuesday December 16th. Shropshire County councillors were minded to oppose the plans when they met in October, despite the advice of officers that they should be approved. Chris Hesketh, of Frack Free Dudleston, said: “This is a hugely important issue for the whole area. Everyone wants to find out what the outcome is going to be. The council received more than 500 letters of objection and a petition against the plans signed by 239 people. One person wrote in support of the application. Mr Hesketh said: Mr Hesketh said: “Since the meeting more reports and warnings have been issued which further backs up our point. The planning officer previously did not go into detail about our concerns so I will be bringing this up at the meeting.”
IGas share price tanks as Trafford Council rejects fracking The Salford Star looks at the IGas price fall and the company’s plans in north west England.
Mums lead county opposition to fracking The East Lothian Courier reports that anti-fracking campaigns are springing up across East Lothian and leading from the front are a group of “foot soldier” mums. The paper says the women have been organising weekly meetings to discuss ways of warning people about shale gas extraction and the impact on their lives. They have joined a wider network online, creating “virtual kitchen tables” to plan their opposition. 50 of the 65 members of the East Lothian Against Fracking Facebook page are women. The group is now planning public meetings and events.
German government reiterates ban on fracking Reuters reports that Germany has no plans to lift its ban on fracking, despite a report in the news magazine, Der Spiegel, that it was considering the lower restrictions on drilling. Germany currently plans to allow fracking only below 3,000m but Der Spiegel suggested that this control would be scrapped. The Environment Minister denied the report but did not rule out that fracking might one day be allowed in Germany.
38 new drilling permits issued in Utica shale region in one week Bakken.com, quoting a report in the Morning Journal, says 38 permits were issued during the week ending November 8th in Ohio for horizontal drilling in the Utica and Point Pleasant Shale plays. There are currently 51 drilling rigs operating in the area. The total number of permits issued so far has reached 1,609, with 1,162 wells already drilled and 617 in production.
Pipeline from the Eagle Ford Shale to Mexico opens Fuelfix.com reports that a 120-mile pipeline is ready to export gas from south Texas to Mexico. Mexico has its own gas reserves but hasn’t been able to develop them fast enough to meet its growing consumption.
Halliburton-Baker Hughes deal will only prolong the shale drilling downturn Forbes reports on the purchase of the oil field servicing company Baker Hughes by Halliburton on 14th November. The combined company will have revenues of $52 billion and 136,000 employees. The deal is expected to be completed in the middle of next year. Forbes predicts this is the first megadeal in a wave of consolidation in the oil industry as falling prices bring about “an abrupt popping of the shale bubble”. Shale Energy Insider report
Oil and gas industry develop exposure scenario for fracking chemicals ChemicalWatch.com reports the exposure scenario is being drawn up by a group of industry bodies and should be ready early next year.
16th November 2014
Fracking chief stays silent on share deal The Sunday Times reports that Andrew Austin, the chief executive of IGas has refused to cave into pressure from investors clamouring for details of a controversial scheme, under which he put £10m of company shares as collateral for a personal loan. The paper says the stock plummeted by 25% last week amid fears that Austin could be hit with a margin call and potentially lose control of the stake. Austin declined to reveal the value of the loan, but it is thought it was less than half the value of the stock.
Council responds to fears over fracking The Milngavie Herald reports that East Dunbartonshire Council acknowledges “widespread public concern” about the impact of fracking on the environment and human health. The Council’s director of development and regeneration, Thomas Glen, says the council would take these into account when considering any future planning applications.
Poland’s shale gas dreams put on hold The FT reports that Poland’s much-hyped shale gas boom could take six or more years to become commercially viable. The paper says foreign oil and gas companies have abandoned their exploration plans, citing bureaucracy and an unfriendly investment climate. Exploration wells failed to meet expectations. Of the 11 foreign companies investing in Poland’s shale gas market in the past four years, seven have abandoned the market, the FT says, after spending a total of £500m.
Fracking should be allowed, says David Hockney The Telegraph reports that artist David Hockney was asked in an online question and answer session whether he thought fracking should be allowed in the UK. He replied: “I suppose you’ve got to say yes, because you can’t stop it really. They needed coal, they needed oil, we can go on and on about oil, but if there wasn’t any, what would happen?
Moratorium vital on gas extraction – Scottish alliance In a letter in the Herald Scotland, a collection of 25 organisations calls on the Scottish Government to implement a moratorium on all unconventional gas development in the country. The groups include branches of Friends of the Earth, Hands Off Our Scotland, Womens Environmental Network Scotland and East Lothian Against Fracking. The letter says:
“The Scottish Government can demonstrate its commitment by taking the responsible decision on the Falkirk public inquiry, to refuse permission to Dart Energy for commercial coal bed methane extraction”. It continues: “A responsible decision is one truly in line with the precautionary, community-led approach to unconventional gas assessment set out in the new Scottish Planning Policy, and which sends a clear message to Westminster that their gung-ho, undemocratic approach on this issue is unacceptable in Scotland. We therefore call on the Scottish Government to refuse the Dart application, and to implement a moratorium on all further unconventional gas development, at least until such time as a full and open public-health impact and life cycle environmental impact assessment has been conducted, with effective community consultation.”
15th November 2014
Landmark vote sees Diocese of Oxford become the first to go fossil free Christian Today reports that the Diocese of Oxford voted by 52-37 votes, with 7 abstentions to make all investments fossil free. The vote also agreed to actively explore opportunities for reinvestment in clean energy alternatives. Oxford is the first diocese in the Church of England to disinvest in fossil fuels. Other faith communities who have taken the same stand include the World Council of Churches, the Church of Sweden, Quakers in Britain and the United Church of Christ in the US.
14th November 2014
Lock-on at Ellesmere Port Reports on Facebook say the drilling rig has arrived at the IGas site at Ellesmere Port and a lock-on is taking place outside this afternoon. IGas proposes to drill for coal bed methane. Picture
Horse Hill demobilises as Lenigas reveals find in Kimmeridge Shale and plans for testing/production next year Our report
Anti-frackers stage protest outside Ellesmere Port IGas site – four arrested The Chester Chronicle reports anti-fracking campaigners chained themselves together outside the entrance to the IGas site in Ellesmere Port. Four were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass.
New report exposes myth that green regulations inflict major harm on business competitiveness and economic growth A new report from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science finds environmental regulation only reduces productivity and employment by a small amount and can boost economic growth by encouraging innovation. The report reviews research over the past 40 years in the UK, US and other countries and finds the benefits of environmental regulations vastly outweigh the costs. The benefits, it finds, are often important and severely underestimated. Current environmental regulation has a negligible impact on trade and investment, compared with factors such as market conditions and the quality of the local workforce.
Baker Hughes confirms merger talks with Halliburton Mail online reports the announcement by US oil services company, Baker Hughes, which it is in preliminary merger talks with Halliburton, the world’s second largest oil field servicer. Mail online says record low oil prices could force oil companies to trim their exploration operations, dealing a blow to subcontractors like Baker Hughes and Halliburton. Baker Hughes shares rose 15% on the first news of the talks.
Why there’s more methane going into the atmosphere than we realised and why this is alarming news for the climate Greenpeace Energy Desk reports on the International Energy Agency’s latest figures on methane in World Energy Outlook 2014. The IEA says methane is 16% of all greenhouse gas emissions and limiting methane is one of the four measures need to stay within 2C of warming. Energy Desk says the long-running disagreement on how much methane leaks from fracking operations could mean the technique is risk for the climate. The report also looks at methane leakage from hydropower dams, microbes in permafrost and agriculture.
IEA: Proposed global energy change will not avoid 2C ENDS says the most disturbing conclusion from the IEA report is that even with existing and planned policies on reducing carbon emissions, fossil fuels will still account for 74% of energy demand by 2040. Oil, coal and gas will account for a quarter each. Under this prediction, energy-related CO2 emissions will rise by 20% and global warming by more than 2C.
SNP opposes DECC plans for no consultation A statement from the SNP says it will oppose UK plans in the Infrastructure Bill to allow drilling and fracking beneath homes without the owners’ consent. The SNP’s Westminster Energy spokesperson, Mike Weir, said: “It is utterly unacceptable that the Westminster Government plans to allow underground drilling rights beneath people’s homes to be granted without any right for people to object or even be notified. The Scottish Government and people across Scotland and indeed the UK, have told the Westminster Government they are wrong, but as usual they are simply not listening.”
“Waste water from oil fracking injected into clean aquifers” NBC Bay Area News in California reports that state officials allowed oil and gas companies to pump 3bn gallons of waste water into underground aquifers that could have been used for drinking water or irrigation. The chief deputy director of California’s Department of Conservation, Jason Marshall, told the TV station: “In multiple different places of the permitting process an error could have been made. There have been past issues where permits were issued to operators that they shouldn’t be injecting into those zones and so we’re fixing that”, he added.
13th November 2014
95 bids for onshore oil and gas licenses Energy minister, Matthew Hancock tells Bloomberg Businessweek there have been 95 bids for onshore oil and gas licenses in the 14th round, which closed last month. Among the bidders are Celtique Energie Ltd, Ineos and IGas, Bloomberg reports.
Delivering shale is my top energy priority – Hancock In a speech to the Goldman Sachs Global Natural Resources Conference, energy minister, Matthew Hancock, says shale gas has the potential to bolster our energy security, provide jobs and help with carbon emissions. “Alongside securing supply, delivering shale is my top energy priority. It is our duty to ensure we don’t ignore this vital energy opportunity – it is something that I feel very strongly about. Leaving shale gas in the ground means missing out the potential for up to £10 billion economic return. Until we explore its potential we cannot know just how big the scale of this is. But we do know the scale of the potential.”
Shale Gas Made Simple Department of Energy and Climate Change launches shale gas made simple, a leaflet spelling out what the government thinks are its benefits. Among the figures quoted is an estimated 74,000 new jobs. This is the upper figure from the Institute of Directors report. A report by AMEC for DECC estimated a peak of 16,000-32,000 from licenses granted in the 14th round.
Leading fracker says UK energy policy is unachievable and gas will be a bridge fuel for 100 years Our report
Chris Faulkner says Advertising Standards Authority is biased over censure of his advert Our report
Fracking no ‘silver bullet’ for emissions cuts or energy security The Guardian reports on a warning from the European Academies Science Advisory Council that shale gas is not a “silver bullet to address energy security of climate change” It said there were no scientific or technical reasons to ban fracking. But claims that shale gas can help cut emissions, depend on avoid methane emissions escaping throughout drilling, extraction and after wells are closed, the council said.
Trafford Council commits to no-fracking future Messenger Newspapers reports that members of Trafford Council supported a motion that the authority would oppose fracking “until such time as it can be proved to be safe”. Conservative councillors proposed an amendment that the council would not support fracking until there was satisfactory evidence or beneficial community interest can be provided to allay public concerns but this was not passed.
1 worker dies and 2 injured in Colorado fracking accident The Wall Street Journal (among many others) reports that Anadarko Petroleum Corp has suspended some operations in Colorado after a worker was killed and two other seriously injured at a company well site in the Wattenberg oil and gas field, north of Denver. Weld County Sheriff’s Department said the drilling contractor, Halliburton, was running fracking operations at the site. “It was a weather thing at a fracking site”, spokesman Sean Standbridge is quoted. “A frozen high-pressure valve ruptured as they tried to heat it.
Seismic survey for fracking sites near Chester Chester First reports on 2D seismic testing in 20 parishes between Chester and Ellesmere Port by contractors for IGas. An IGas spokesman is quoted: “The seismic testing is conducted under permitted development rights and is not subject to any planning application – therefore no consultation is required. However we prefer to advise that this work will be undertaken so local councillors are aware of the testing should they be asked questions. It’s not a statutory obligation but rather something we consider to be best practice. Similar report from Shale Energy Insider
New polls find more Americans oppose fracking than support it ThinkProgess.Org reports that a new poll by the Pew Research Centre found that 47% of Americans now oppose fracking, compared with 41% who support. In March 2013, 48% supported, compared with 38% who opposed. The biggest fall in support has been among women, voters under 49, those with some college education, Midwesterners and independent voters. Republicans support fracking by 62%; Democrats oppose by 59%.
Challenge to fracking bans The Hydraulic Fracking blog reports that challenges to fracking bans in the US may argue that the votes constitute “unconstitutional takings”. A takings claim, the blog says, could lead to costs for the communities that passed the ban. “Many argue that localities may rescind their fracking bans rather than risk incurring a large financial obligation.
Boulder County Commissioners flooded with requests for fracking moratorium extension The Boulder Weekly reports that public support for an extension of the county’s moratorium on fracking has been relentless, with most requesting at least three-and-a-half years. Following a hearing by Boulder County Commissioners in Longmont, residents have cited the need for more research, fugitive emissions and impacts on health as reasons to delay drilling.
North Dakota to require producers to treat crude before shipping The Wall Street Journal reports that North Dakota plans unprecedented steps to ensure crude pumped from the state’s Bakken shale oil region is safe enough to be loaded onto trains. Operators are to be required to remove gases from crude oil that show high vapour pressures.
Oil’s dive set to transform LNG market The FT reports that the falling price of crude oil is likely to bring down the cost of LNG by early next year. The prospect of lower gas prices in Asia has ignited debate of the viability of new LNG projects planned in Australia and the US (forecast to be the 1st and 3rd largest LNG exporters by 202), the FT says. If crude holds steady or keeps falling, this debate will intensity.
12th November 2014
Fracking overhyped; doubts over sovereign wealth fund and energy independence from shale The UK’s global gas challenge, a report by the UK Energy Research Centre, (an academic consortium of 30 institutions), finds significant shale gas production in the UK is unlikely to get underway until the early 2020s and is unlikely to reduce dependence on imports or reduce prices. The report’s author, Jim Watson, tells the Guardian the impact of shale on prices and energy security has been overhyped. Another author, Mike Bradshaw, casts doubt on plans for a sovereign wealth fund in an interview with the BBC. “Talk about a bonanza is incredible,” he said. “It hasn’t happened and it might never happen. Even if shale gas does get developed in the north of England, the extra amount of money generated will probably be relatively small – so the fund will be even smaller.” Business Green report
Shale gas could be a bridging fuel – but will soon become a part of the problem, not the solution The Guardian says a second report by UKERC (A bridge to a Low-carbon future?) warns that by 2025, the time any shale gas industry is up and running in the UK, global gas consumption must have peaked and begin rapidly tailing off to avoid dangerous levels of global warming. The Journal reports avoiding a 2 degrees temperature rise relies on gas use beginning to fall in the late 202s and early 203s, with any major role beyond 2035 requiring widespread use of carbon capture and storage.
Shale gas is not going to solve our problems Green Party peer, Jenny Jones responded to the UKERC reports: “At a time when current trends mean that we are on course for a catastrophic 4 degree temperature increase, our priority must be switching to renewables such as solar and wind and getting serious about energy conservation. Exploiting even more fossil fuels such as fracked oil or gas that can only accelerate global warming just isn’t an option.”
Shale gas bubble – not worth the pop for jobs or energy security The TUC‘s response to the UKERC: “Pound for pound, both in the short-term construction phase and in terms of average plant lifetime jobs, there’s far more skilled work to be had from renewables and energy efficiency. … Renewable energy and energy efficiency investments are on average about twice as job-intensive as investment in coal- or gas-fired power generation”.
Fracking will transform the North: Minister reveals Government plans for sovereign wealth fund Energy Minister, Matthew Hancock, tells Mail online the government is preparing to announce plans for a sovereign wealth fund to hold revenues from fracking in the north of England (see also our report from 11/11/14). The minister says fracking will deliver a “gold rush” for northern towns like Blackpool, turning them into the UK equivalents of oil-rich communities in the Middle East.
New fracking college in Blackpool Energy Minister, Matthew Hancock, is to announce the creation of a National College for Onshore Oil and Gas based at Blackpool and The Fylde College, the BBC reports. There will also be offshoots in Chester, Portsmouth, Redcar and Strathclyde. Mail Online report.
FOE responds to fracking college plan Friends of the Earth NW campaigner, Helen Rimmer, says: “The North West deserves investment in jobs and skills, but this should be in energy sectors of the future such as tidal, wave and solar which the region has in abundance – not dead-end fossil fuels. Energy experts have revealed today that the Government has completely oversold the benefits of fracking and there is no evidence it will help security of supply or bring down prices. If ministers think fracking will help tackle the nation’s energy challenges perhaps they need to go back to college.”
UK ignores pledge to end fossil fuel support Despite promises to phase out subsides to coal, oil and gas industries the UK and other G20 governments are still providing massive financial help, Climate News Network reports. Guest Post
Rathlin submitting plan for third East Yorkshire well Our report
Fracking report author revealed as energy firm board member The SNP reports that Paul Younger, an academic who called for fracking regulations on seismicity to be relaxed (see top story 11/11/14), is the director of Five-Quarter, a company working in unconventional gas extraction from below the North Sea. A major shareholder in Five Quarter is Buccleauch Estates, currently behind plans to extract coal bed methane in Dumfriesshire, the SNP reports. SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said: “Academics need to be a lot more transparent if they have paid posts and journalists should do a bit more research before publicising their research uncritically. There is a great deal of overlap between the unconventionals industry and academia. While I do not dispute Professor’s Younger’s academic credentials, it is important to see the full picture.”
Professor defends links to energy firm Professor Younger told STV his association with Five-Quarter (see above) was public knowledge and he was an unpaid non-executive director. “The report into fracking that was published earlier this week in the reputable Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology is a substantial piece of independent academic research which was led by a colleague at the University of Glasgow who has no involvement with Five-Quarter or any other company. To suggest that the study was influenced in any way by my association with Five-Quarter is disingenuous: that company is developing completely different technologies.”
US shale pioneers circle the wagons The FT reports the US shale industry is refusing to take flight in the face of a predicted price war in the oil market. Some companies are said to be reassessing their drilling programmes and a few have announced cuts. But the paper says it looks like tactical withdrawals, rather than admissions of defeat. There were 1,568 rigs drilling for oil onshore in the US last week, 41 fewer than in mid-October, according to Baker Hughes, the oil services group.
IEA warns low oil prices threaten US shale investment The FT reports an IEA warning that investment in US shale oilfields will fall by a tenth next year if the oil price continues to trade around $80 a barrel. Such a reduction in investment would lead to a decline in production in the medium term, the IEA said, although it did not give any details about the drop in output or changes to its forecasts.
Tullow Oil to slash exploration budget The FT reports Tullow is abandoning much of its wildcat exploration programme in response to steep falls in the oil price and a poor market for discoveries made beyond the US shale sector. The paper says the FTSE 100 company, which has spent $1bn annually in the past two years on exploration and appraisal drilling, is planning to cut spending to $300m for 2015.
Analysts sceptical OPEC will halt fall in oil prices The FT quotes the Pira Energy Group, described as one of the oil markets most influential analysts, as saying oil prices will continue to fall even if OPEC countries agree to cut production later this month. Pira’s CEO, Garry Ross, tells the paper there is an imbalance between supply and demand that would force prices down next year, regardless of cuts that could be announced on November 27th. “Open cannot and will not take the pain necessary to correct the imbalance”, he said.
Shale boom has masked underlying problems with energy sectors – IEA Shale Energy Insider reports a warning from the International Energy Agency that the glut in the oil market from the US shale boom is masking threats to the oil industry. It specifically points to conflict in the Middle East and Ukraine and the difficulty of shale production beyond North America. In its World Energy Outlook, the IEA says global energy demand will increase by 37% by 2040, requiring an annual global investment of $900 by the 2030s to replace exhausted fields and expand resources.
A new oil drilling plan for the South Downs National Park? The Midhurst and Petworth Observer picks up the news that IGas is interested in drilling at Baxter’s Copse in Graffham. See our report from 30th October.
Fracking chemicals “no more toxic” than common household substances Click Green reports on a study by University of Colorado Boulder which says the surfactant chemicals found in samples of fracking fluid collected in five US states were no more toxic than substances commonly found in homes. Surfactants reduce the surface tension of water, allowing for more oil to be extracted. The study found the chemicals were used in products from toothpaste to laxatives, detergents and ice cream. The authors caution that their results may not be applicable to all wells. Individual well operators use unique fracking fluid mixtures that may be modified depending on the underlying geology.
Kerosene in fracking fluid: toxic but legal The Herald Standard reports that 230,171 gallons of kerosene were used in fracking fluid in 129 wells throughout Fayette County, Pennsylvania – all legally. Ken Dufalla, president of the Greene County chapter of the Isaak Walton League of America (a grassroots conservation society) has been collecting data from waterways in the Fayette area for the past four years. He says frack fluids are definitely getting into the water. “It’s a problem and it’s going to get worse”, he said.
Halliburton ‘war room’ tracks sand shipments for fracking industry The Wall Street Journal reports that Halliburton’s Houston office has more than a dozen employees daily following trains transporting sand across the US to the company’s silos. The WSJ says it takes 5 million pounds of sand to frack a typical well (source: PaccWest Consulting Partners) but Halliburton and others are experimenting with four times that volume. Sand is moved from the upper Midwest to Texas and Colorado by dedicated trains, often 100 wagons long. The final leg of the journey is by truck, with 500 per train.
Fracking sand in oilfields stirs up a serious health risk for workers The Denver Post reports delays in efforts to update exposure limits to sand dust. It says some companies are trying to reduce exposure for oilfield workers but the industry, supported by the US Chamber of Commerce is opposing much that is proposed in new regulations.
11th November 2014
Fracking firms should be allowed to cause bigger earth tremors, academics claim A report by Glasgow University in the Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology says fracking firms must be allowed to cause far more significant earth tremors if the Government wants the shale gas industry to succeed. The Telegraph quotes Dr Rob Westaway and Professor Paul Younger as saying current regulations are the equivalent of banning buses from driving past houses or prohibiting the slamming of wooden doors. They say the rules, which force fracking operations to stop if tremors exceed 0.5 on the Richter scale, were deterring would-be investors in shale gas. Telegraph comment; BBC Scotland story Mail Online
Friends of the Earth reaction Energy campaigner, Tony Bosworth, says: “Any move to weaken safety rules on fracking will send shock-waves around local communities who face the threat of shale gas extraction under their homes. The current regulations were introduced after the only well to be fracked in Britain caused earthquakes and damaged the wellbore. Such incidents can increase the risk of pollution. Further watering-down of regulations on the safety of fracking would be deeply unpopular and show that the Government is putting the interests of shale gas firms ahead of people.
No shale sovereign wealth fund until 2015+, minister tells debate on Infrastructure Bill Our report on the latest debate on amendments to the bill
If the UK has to have a shale gas sovereign wealth fund, it needs to do better than this James Murray, editor of Business Green, says “Until the UK government offers a clearer vision of how it plans to spend the promised shale gas billions, environmentalists will be forgiven for fearing a repeat of Thatcher’s North Sea fuelled electioneering, in the form of a transparent attempt to bribe communities to support fracking projects with the latest infrastructure boondoggles.”
Nova Scotia poised to outlaw fracking The Hydraulic Fracking blog reports that the Nova Scotia Legislature has resolved to ban fracking. Legislation will authorise the Minister of Energy to conduct a review of fracking and, in future, lift the ban, provided consideration is given to the net benefit of fracking to Nova Scotians and to social, economic, health and environmental issues.
10th November 2014
EA likely to approve fracking bid on the Fylde coast BBC Lancashire reports the Environment Agency has said it is inclined to grant permits to Cuadrilla to frack for gas at Preston New Road, near Little Plumpton. The decision is subject to a second public consultation which ends on 8th December. Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan told the BBC: “We welcome the announcement by the Environment Agency that it is minded to approve our permits. It comes at the end of a robust and rigorous review of our permit applications to ensure that, as we have committed, the local environment is well protected throughout our proposed exploratory operations. We will, of course, comply fully with their requirements for our proposed new sites.” Blackpool Gazette report and Lancashire Evening Post report
Cluff Natural Resources announces plans to extract gas from Firth of Forth BBC Scotland reports the company has identified two coal seams at its Kincardine licence area. It now plans to build the UK’s first deep offshore underground coal gasification plant, possibly at Longannet or Grangemouth. WWF Scotland described the move as irresponsible and a complete non-starter.
Let’s make shale a gift that keeps on giving Lord Hodgson tells the Telegraph about his amendment to the Infrastructure Bill to establish a UK shale fund. He tells the paper: “It proposes, among other things, that no less than 50 per cent of government revenues from shale gas development should be put into the fund – a balance between present and future entitlements; that no more than 4 per cent of the fund should be distributed each year – to ensure longevity; that those proceeds be devoted to long-term prospects; and finally, and most importantly, that there is a proper degree of governance and transparency in the management of the fund.” Mail online report Guardian story
Government accused of copying UK policy on shale gas UKIP MEP Tim Aker commented on proposals for a sovereign wealth fund for shale: “It’s astonishing that not only are they lifting our policy concepts straight out of our manifesto, but they are not even worried about using our wording. It’s basically a copy and paste!”
Counter-terrorism police visit journalist at home over fracking film Netpol reports that a journalist covering anti-fracking protests was visited on 23rd September by plain clothes police asking to interview her. After she asked them why they wanted to know about her car, they disclosed they were from Special Branch’s Counter Terrorism and Domestic Extremism Unit, Netpol says. They told her that the security company for Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking site at Preston New Road had alerted Lancashire Police that her car had been seen nearby.
Lorries entering Horse Hill site as rig takedown gets underway Horse Hill Protection Group reports empty lorries entering Horse Hill Development Ltd’s site near Horley. “It looks like takedown is in full swing”, the group reports this afternoon.
Protester chains herself to drilling rig The Crawley Observer reports that an un-named protester locked herself to the drilling rig leaving the Horse Hill oil exploration site near Horley. Picture here GetSurrey.co.uk reports a man and a woman were arrested by police on suspicion of obstructing the highway. Both were cautioned.
Shadow minister calls for Holyrood to get powers on fracking The Herald Scotland reports that shadow energy minister, Tom Greatrex, is calling for full control over underground drilling for shale gas to be devolved to the Scottish government. He said it made sense to “devolve decision-making on mineral access rights” to Scotland. The UK government is planning to change the trespass law to allow companies to drill below 300m without the owners’ permission. But there is no trespass law in Scotland. Mr Greatrex said: “I am suggesting that the response to this inconsistency in Scotland should be considered alongside the rest of the planning process.”
Green energy “creates more jobs than fossil fuels”, study says. Business Green reports on a study by the UK Energy Research Centre (which researches in what it calls sustainable future energy systems). It found data from the US, Europe and China, suggested that green energy could provide a boost to employment, though short-term construction and lifetime plant jobs. Solar electricity creates between 0.4-1.1 jobs per gigawatt hour of electricity generated, compared with 0.1-0.2 by coal and gas. Wind generates 0.05-0.5 jobs per GWh and energy efficient 0.3-1 job. UKERC said green sectors account for 3.4 million jobs across the EU, or just under 2% of all paid employment.
Cuadrilla sponsors Blackpool Gazette Young Engineers Challenge 2015 The Blackpool Gazette announces the launch of its competition giving every secondary school on the Fylde coast a chance to win £10,000 to fund science technology, engineering and maths (STEM) work. The competition is sponsored by Cuadrilla and Centrica and, the paper says, is designed to inspire youngsters. Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, said: “The Young Engineers challenge and STEM clubs in school just enthuse children in these subjects. I hope something as different and exciting as going to see Brian Cox will inspire them.”
No shale gas in Romania Reuters reports television comments by the Romanian Prime Minister, Victor Ponta: “”It looks like we don’t have shale gas, we fought very hard for something that we do not have.” I cannot tell you more than this but I don’t think we fought for something that existed.” Earlier this year, U.S. energy major Chevron Corp finalised exploration works at a well in the eastern Romanian village of Pungesti, after repeatedly postponing operations because of protests from local residents. In October, the Romanian energy minister told Reuters that Romania would produce more gas than it consumed by 2020.
Chevron has yet to finish Romania shale gas assessment Chevron tells Reuters (quoted by businessInsider.com) that the company is analysing data from drilling and seismic operations. The company says this will help it “further understand the resource potential of natural gas from shale”
Jordan: planned oil shale project to produce up to 40,000 barrels per day HellenicShippingNews.com reports that the Jordanian government will sign a memorandum of understanding with Al Qamar, a consortium of energy companies, to produce up to 40,000 barrels of day from a 64 km sq in Attarat Um Ghadran.
9th November 2014
Fracking plan “is desperate” The Lancashire Evening Telegraph reports the response by Lancashire Friends of the Earth campaigner, Helen Rimmer, to George Osborne’s idea of a sovereign wealth fund for shale revenues. “This is yet another desperate attempt by the Chancellor to try and win over communities who are saying no to dirty fracking. The economic benefits of shale gas have been vastly over-hyped by the Government and their friends in the fossil fuel industry, and communities will not be bought off with cheap bribes”, she said. A Cuadrilla spokesman tells the paper Mr Osborne’s suggestion was a “potentially exciting idea.”
Shale gas bill will affect you! The Argus carries a piece by Beki Adams, a farmer in the South Downs, on why she thinks the Infrastructure Bill should ring alarm bells for anyone who sees the need to move away from fossil fuels. The Bill has as an objective maximising economic recovery. “As a principal objective, economic concerns would trump all overs”, she said. Every disaster I can think of in the history of oil and gas happened when industry cut corners to save money. Maximising economic recovery = doing it as cheaply as possible. Whether the Government has realised or not (perhaps industry wrote the Bill for them) all other concerns like community objections, health, regulations protecting aquifers, air quality and wildlife habitats would be less important than ‘economic recovery’ – by law.
8th November 2014
Shale gas: George Osborne proposes north of England fund George Osborne told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme shale gas revenues could be held in a sovereign wealth fund for the north of England. He said the fund would be a way of making sure the money is not squandered on day-to-day spending. Helen Rimmer, of Friends of the Earth, described this as “a desperate attempt to win over communities”. The BBC says the issue is due to be discussed in the House of Lords on Monday (November 10th). Sunday Express report
Shale drillers idle rigs from Texas to Utah amid oil rout Bloomberg reports that the shale oil drilling boom in the US is showing signs of cracking. Rigs targeting oil sank by 14 to 1,568 this week, the lowest since August 22nd, according to figures from Baker Hughes. The Eagle Ford shale formation in south Texas lost the most, Bloomberg reports. It quotes Transocean which said its earnings would take a hit by a drop in fees and demand for its rigs.
Saying No to fracking could cost Britain £10bn a year ProactiveInvvestors.co.uk reports a speech by energy minister, Matthew Hancock, in which he says Britain faces a £10bn a year import bill if the country ignores the opportunity of shale gas extraction. Without shale gas, he said Britain could import 70-80% of gas by 2030. “The first duty of the Energy Department is to ensure the lights stay on. And the facts are clear, if we continue without shale our energy supplies will become less secure.
Rathlin Energy announces plans for another gas exploration site in the East Riding The Hull Daily Mail reports on an information day for people living near West Newton, where it plans another drill site. The company says it has no plans for fracking.
Lock-on outside HHDL’s Horley site Horse Hill Protection Camp reports two protesters are locked together outside the entrance to Horse Hill Development Ltd’s site at Horley.
7th November 2014
Quash Cuadrilla’s Balcombe planning permission, villagers’ lawyer tells final day of judicial review Our report
Campaigning residents hit out at pro-fracking peer as they launch High Court battle The Argus quotes Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association, Charles Metcalfe, responding to comments by Lord Lawson that shale should be a national priority (see 4th November for link to our report on this). Mr Metcalfe described Lord Lawson as the “archetypal climate change denier”. He told the Argus: “It is astonishing he is still peddling a now scientifically discredited line of opinion.”
Judicial review judge to be knighted The government announces that the Queen has approved a knighthood to be conferred on Judge Andrew James Gilbart, the judge who heard the judicial review of Cuadrilla’s Balcombe planning application (see reports on Nov 6th and 7th).
Anti-frackers protest at seismic testing in Chester and Ellesmere Port The Chester Chronicle reports that campaigners opposed to fracking have been protesting next to “thumper” trucks carrying out seismic tests around Chester. Tesla Exploration is carrying out 2D testing for IGas covering 80 km between Ellesmere Port and Chester. Explosive charges are used on farmland the thumper trucks on roads to create vibrations which, when reflected back, can be measured to generate an image of what lies underground.
Fylde protesters hail US frack ban Campaigners against fracking in Lancashire have reacted with delight about the fracking ban in Denton, Texas, the Blackpool Gazette reports. Dot Kelk, from Lancashire Friends of the Earth, said: “After years of living with the dirty fracking industry it’s no wonder the residents of Denton in Texas want to ban it from their communities. No community should have to live with fracking, but when the ‘home of fracking’ says no it’s a clear message to Lancashire County Council that we must protect our county from this polluting industry and reject fracking plans”.
OGA chief executive: Culture change needed in industry Energy Voice reports that the newly-appointed chief executive of the Oil and Gas authority believes the biggest challenge facing the industry is a change in culture and behaviour. Andy Samuel was named as the new head of the OGA during a visit to Aberdeen. He said close working between the industry, OGA and government was vital. “I’m actually very confident we know what we need to do. I think cultural change and behaviour change is going to perhaps be the biggest challenge. The establishment of the OGA was announcement at the review by Sir Ian Wood, who said it was essential in maximising the recovery of oil and gas. BBC report
US fracking firms stay in top gear despite oil price slump Reuters reports that firms supplying sand and guar gum for shale companies at not ready to call an end to a four-year fracking boom. The agencies quotes company heads saying there has been no fall in demand for their products, despite a 30% fall in oil prices since June.
Texan mayor vows to defend fracking ban after vote The Mayor of Denton, Chris Watts, tells CNBC he will defend the vote against fracking after two law suits are filed against the city.
Stop fracking – Wales Green leader’s plea The South Wales Argus reports a letter from the leader of the Wales Green Party, Pippa Bartolotti, to the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, calling on the Welsh Assembly to stop plans for fracking. The letter said: “Fracking sites are planned all over Wales, and the Welsh Government has full jurisdiction over the planning process, we therefore ask that you use your authority to stop the process of fracking in its tracks. A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: It is not correct to say that the Welsh Government has full jurisdiction over the consenting process in respect of oil and gas development. Oil and gas licensing is a matter for the UK Government. We are committed to a transition to a low carbon energy system in a way that delivers benefits to the people of Wales. In the transition, gas will play an important role as it is flexible, reliable and with lower emissions than other fossil fuels.
US shale gas output breaking records UPI reports from Denver that US gas production has risen for the 10th consecutive month, according to analysis from Platts. Gas production in the Lower 48 states averaged 69.9 billion cubic feet per day in October, breaking the previous record.
Ratcliffe: Europe must got for shale gas Jim Ratcliffe, chair of Ineos, is reported by European Plastics News as saying the chemicals industry faces dire consequences if Europe does not develop low cost energy to make it competitive with other regions like the US. “Europe has invested three times as much in renewables as the US has spent on shale. Europe’s energy balance gets 5% from renewables and the US gets 50% from shale. So who looks smarter, the Europeans or the Americans?” Ratcliffe is quoted. He said Europe has good reserves of shale gas and should follow in US footsteps.
Latest amendments to the Infrastructure Bill Amendments by peers to be considered during Report Stage of the bill
Don’t use the “F” word Bloomberg says South Africa’s oil industry regulator is asking companies to remove references to fracking from their applications for shale gas projects in the Karoo region so they can be processed while relevant legislation is prepared. “The companies involved have been requested to revise their environmental management programs,” Dave van der Spuy, manager of resource evaluation at Petroleum Agency SA, said in a presentation. “Any reference to hydraulic fracturing will have to be removed from those environmental management programs. There is a moratorium on new fracking applications but regulations for fracking may be completed by the end of next year.
A fracking great battle at EL2014 EnergyLiveNews.com reports on the debate between Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Energy, and Eva Jasiewicz, No Dash for Gas campaigner
6th November 2014
Judicial review of Cuadrilla’s Balcombe planning application underway at the High Court in London. Balcombe residents’ group argues West Sussex County Council officers misdirected planning committee. Our report. County Council argues it followed government guidance on deciding applications. Our report Report by Energy Voice Shalenow.com
We don’t want fracking The Blackpool Gazette reports on a meeting of more than 150 people at Preston Minster opposing Cuadrilla’s plans for the Fylde. The meeting heard from the Unite union, Blackburn Anglican Diocese Environment Group, Morecambe Bay Community Renewables, Frack Free Lancashire, Friends of the Earth, and local engineer Mike Hill. Mr Hill said the industry was not properly regulated and that “current regulations are nowhere near sufficient to mitigate the very severe risks from fracking”. A spokesman for Cuadrilla told the paper: “We know shale gas exploration and extraction can be carried out in the UK safely, securely and in an environmentally responsible way and we will do that”.
City Councillor calls for fracking in Birmingham The Birmingham Post reports that former Lord Mayor John Lines called on the council to “drill down and start fracking in the very new future”. He said the city must take advantage of the new round of licensing and allow fracking under the city. Birmingham is currently not licenced for oil and gas exploration but it was offered in the 14th round. Chris Crean, West Midlands Campaign Coordinator for Friends of the Earth, said rather than ‘dirty, expensive and disruptive fracking’ he would like to see Birmingham lead the way with green initiatives. He said: “I don’t think fracking would be beneficial for people in Birmingham.
Kale or fracking? Farmers and corporations fight it out for water The Guardian’s US Money Blog reports on how a conflict is looming between industry and agriculture in California. The state, the blog says, has the sixth largest oil areas, where much of the production is from fracking, as well as producing half the country’s carrot crop and 40% of pistachio.
Three of four proposed fracking bans fail in Utica shale PowerSource, energy news from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette says voters rejected most of the proposed bans on fracking in Ohio. Bans were rejected in ballots in Gates Mills, Kent and Youngstown. In Youngstown this was the four rejection in two years. Athens voted in favour of a ban.
Cuadrilla Environmental Impact Assessment Shale World includes a video of Cuadrilla boss, Francis Egan, explaining the company’s plans at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood and the EIA prepared by Arup.
Lord Lawson’s parallel world where global warming is not a concern A blog for the New Statesman reported on Lord Lawson’s comments on climate change in a debate organised by Christians in Parliament. He told the audience climate change could only lead to small risks and that people and ecosystems would simply adapt. He predicted that future generations would be much richer and that economic growth would be unaffected.
MEP backs Fermanagh to host major conference on fracking The Fermanagh Herald reports that a major European anti-fracking conference is set to be held in Fermanagh in the New Year. The announcement was made by Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson on her visit to the county last week. She told the paper: “I would be very concerned that the forty shades of green around this area could be easily turned into fifty shades of grey, to borrow a phrase.”
Fracking dominates the November ballot The Hydraulic Fracking blog has a summary of the ballots on fracking in the US midterm elections and their results.
5th November 2014
Rig leaves Rathlin’s West Newton site as company prepares to give details of a second rig in Holderness. Our report
Denton votes to ban fracking The Texas Tribune reports that Denton becomes the first city in Texas to vote to ban fracking for oil and gas. Nearly 59% of voters approved the measure. Supporters of the ban described it as a last ditch effort to address noise and fumes from the wells near their homes, after loopholes and previous zoning decisions made changes to the city’s drilling rules unenforceable. Cathy McMullen, president of Frack Free Denton, said “It means we don’t have to worry about what our kids are breathing at city playgrounds”. The Texas Railroad Commissioner, which regulates fracking in the state, said he was confident the ban would be overturned. Chris Faulkner, the chief executive of Breitling Energy in Dallas, tells the Texas Tribune “If one community after another continues to say ‘Not in my backyard,’ then before long, a tsunami of exclusion will jeopardize our freedom as a country”.
Immediate injunction The Guardian reports that the Texas Oil and Gas association asked for an immediate injunction to stop the ban from being enforced. The paper says Denton is probably the most heavily fracked in the US and oil companies spent $700,000 trying to defeat the ban, nearly $6 for every resident.
Texas General Land Office sues Denton to stop enforcement of fracking ban The Hydraulic Fracturing blog reports on legal action against the vote to ban fracking in Denton. The GLO says public schools are funded from income from public land, most of which is from oil and gas operations. The GLO says it has a “constitutional duty to ensure that public land is put to its most profitably use
US ballots on fracking New York Times report
Greater London Assembly says no to fracking London assembly members vote by 15 to 8 in favour of a motion which includes a call that “London is and should always be a no-fracking zone”. The motion, proposed by Murad Qureshi says: “The Mayor’s attacks on renewables and support for fracking are symbolic of his regressive approach to London’s environmental challenges. Given this, the London Assembly does not support any fracking activities within the boundaries of Greater London.” Business Green article
Protesters prepared for prison and ready to fight until bitter end The Oswestry and Border Counties Advertiser reports that anti-drilling campaigners at Dudleston Heath near Ellesmere have said they will stay at a purpose-built camp until exploration plans are thrown out. Last month, Shropshire Council’s planning committee failed to reach a decision on an application by Dart Energy for an exploratory borehole.
4th November 2104
Opposition to fracking overtakes support for the first time in government public attitude study Our report
Lancashire Councillors call for tougher regulation before fracking goes ahead Our report
Head of Coastal Oil and Gas joins panel for Canterbury debate Our report
Lords debate report on economic impact of shale gas Lord Lawson calls for shale gas to be made a national priority. Lord Tugendhat complaints about protests by “prosperous people in prosperous areas” Our report
Barton Moss exploration well results “encouraging” IGAS announces its well at Barton Moss in PEDL 193 encountered 15 gas-bearing coal seams and a Namurian Shale section. Chief Executive, Andrew Austin, described the results as encouraging. A statement says the results “represent an important datapoint in understanding the structural and depositional setting of the basin”. It adds the results will help refine the company’s appraisal programme and the resource potential. The Total Organic Carbon indicates values up to 5.72%, with an average of 1.9% , the company says (Schlumberger suggests a value of 0.5% is considered the minimum for an effective source rock but 2% are considered the minimum for shale gas reservoirs).
Environmental groups voice fracking fears after “encouraging results from Barton Moss drilling The Manchester Evening News reports that campaigners are now bracing themselves for a planning application for full-scale drilling at Barton Moss. North West campaigner for Friends of the Earth, Helen Rimmer, tells the paper “These shale gas results will ring alarm bells in the local community who last winter showed huge opposition to IGas drilling at Barton Moss.”
Politicians in war of words at city fracking debate The Oxford Mail reports that a labour councillor and local Green Party chair clashed outside county hall before a council debate on fracking. (There’s no report in the paper about the debate).
Oklahoma orders shut down of disposal well after multiple earthquakes The Hydraulic Fracking blog reports that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered the temporary closure of a disposal well near Cushing after the area reported several earthquakes last month (measuring 2.7, 3.2, 4.0 and 4.3). The blog says officials say people should not draw any correlation between the well and the earthquakes. The well may simply have been drilled too deep. The commission stated that operators have never had permission to drill into the granite bedrock zone.
3rd November 2014
UKOOG welcomes IPPC report The group representing onshore oil and gas companies, welcomes the IPPC report calling for urgent action to combat climate change. The most obvious need, UKOOG says, is “to replace the dirtiest forms of fossil fuels as quickly as possible. Previous IPCC reports have argued that shale gas is not incompatible with combating climate change”. UKOOG adds: “The onshore oil and gas industry has a commitment and duty to do everything it can to extract gas with the minimum of emissions and environmental impacts.”
2nd November 2014
Green Party shuns Lib Dem pact over environment policy The Independent on Sunday reports that Green Party will not collaborate with the Lib Dems because the “party is so discredit on the environment”. Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, told the paper the Lib Dems had “blown their green credentials” by backing nuclear power and fracking.
CPRE sends report to minister in bid to exclude east Kent Kent Online reports that campaigners against fracking have issued a report to Energy Minister, Matthew Hancock, in a bid to exclude east Kent. CPRE Kent believes fracking at Shepherdswell, Guston, Tilmanstone and Woodnesborough could damage the aquifer which supplies 70% of the county’s water, the site reports. The group says oil and gas deposits are 600-700m below the chalk aquifer of the North Downs. It believes geological faults could allow gases and fracking fluids to leak into the chalk and contaminate the water supply.
Substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions at core of limiting risks of climate change – IPCC. In its latest report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that climate change threatens irreversible and dangerous impacts. But it says options exist to limit its effect. Youba Sokona, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group behind the report, said: “It is technically feasible to transition to a low-carbon economy. But what is lacking are appropriate policies and institutions. The longer we wait to take action, the more it will cost to adapt and mitigate climate change.” Sokona added: “To keep a good chance of staying below 2ºC, and at manageable costs, our emissions should drop by 40 to 70 percent globally between 2010 and 2050, falling to zero or below by 2100.We have that opportunity, and the choice is in our hands.” Press release Report
1st November 2014
Cheaper energy could be a mixed blessing The Wall Street Journal reports oil prices at about $80 a barrel will benefit consumers and businesses – and stronger energy companies will continue to profit. But if oil prices drop below $70 a barrel, the paper says there will be a constraint on what it calls the boom that has moved the US towards energy independence.
Meetings to address concerns over Woodburn well project The Carrick Times reports that the drilling company, InfraStrata, is holding information meetings on November 5th and 6th about its planned exploration well in the Woodburn Forrest near Carrickfergus.
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