Daily headlines

January 2015 fracking headlines

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

  • Infrastructure Bill debate: defeat for fracking moratorium; Labour’s conditions adopted
  • Scotland’s announcement of moratorium on fracking planning permissions
  • Planning officers recommend refusal of Cuadrilla’s Fylde fracking applications
  • Cuadrilla wins deferral of decision on Fylde planning applications and promises to spend £ms on quieter fracking
  • Thousands sign anti-fracking petitions
  • Environmental Audit Committee’s investigation into fracking risks
  • Planning and permit applications by Egdon Resources, Europa, Rathlin Energy, Third Energy and UK Methane
  • Government refuses to publish unredacted version of report on shale’s rural impacts
  • Campaigners say fracking jobs claim is over-hyped
  • Scotland to get control over drilling access rights – and Wales wants the same
  • Drillers sign agreements with US companies
  • New study: most of the world’s fossil fuel reserves – and more of resources – must stay buried to prevent intolerable climate change

 31st January 2015

Francis Maude stepping down as MP Francis Maude, the minister who appointed Cuadrilla’s CEO, Lord Browne, as the government’s Lead Non-Executive Director in the Cabinet Office, announces he is standing down as an MP at the election. Mr Maude has represented Horsham in West Sussex for the Conservatives since 1997. His constituency includes Balcombe, where Lord Browne’s company, Cuadrilla, has been exploring for oil. West Sussex County Times report.

“Another hilarious lesson in why you should pick your advocates carefully” Anti-fracking campaign group Refracktion.com reviews the arguments on fracking made correspondents to BBC Radio 4’s Any Answers.

Frack Stops Here in Pendle England Events carries details of a rally outside Nelson Town Hall on 17th March 2015, to coincide with Cuadrilla’s attendance at a meeting of Pendle Council’s Scrutiny Panel.

Which ‘environment’ do ‘environmentalists’ really care about? Christopher Booker in The Telegraph says anti-frackers are the same people who support wind farms.

Chevron to stop shale operation in Poland Reuters reports that Chevron is to stop exploring for shale gas in Poland. The corporation says the opportunities “no longer compete favourably with other opportunities in Chevron’s global portfolio”. Exxon Mobil, Total and Marathon Oil have also stopped shale gas exploration in Poland over the past three years.

Shale gas puts “tree huggers” to shame Conservative Euro MP for Scotland Struan Stevenson, writing in The Scotsman, says he shale gas revolution has shamed the wind industry by showing how to cut carbon emissions for real. He urges: “We must stop the trendy protest army in its tracks and send them and their windmills packing. Shale gas could solve our looming energy crisis”.

30th January 2015

UKOG’s Lenigas says hiring US specialist is “big news for Horse Hill” Our report

Drill-seekers – Fracking for shale gas draws closer, at a snail’s pace The Economist reports on the Infrastructure Bill debate and Cuadrilla’s applications in Fylde, with quotes from Ken Cronin of UKOOG and Professor Quentin Fisher, of Leeds University.

10 things you need to know about fracking – the case against Donna Hume, of Friends of the Earth, presents arguments against fracking in The Independent

Fracking can improve our energy security, create jobs and support the development of renewables Corin Taylor, of UKOOG, the onshore oil and gas industry body, writing in the Independent says the ideological fervour of those opposing fracking is not supported by the facts. He says: “many of the environmental campaigners ignore the importance of gas to the UK, overlook the energy security, economic and environmental benefits of a domestic source of gas, and disregard the expert evidence that properly-regulated shale gas production is safe”.

South Downs National Park welcomes fracking ban The Midhurst and Petworth Observer reports that the South Downs National Park Authority has welcomed a government decision to ban fracking in national parks. Chief executive Trevor Beattie said: “This announcement shows a commitment to putting measures in place to make sure it stays protected and we await further details from the government as to how this will work.” But Brenda Pollack, campaigner at Friends of the Earth, told the Observer: “Public opinion and increasing concern from MPs has forced a retreat on fracking, but these concessions do not go far enough.

Why I resigned from my ministerial job over David Cameron’s plan to frack in Somerset Tessa Munt tells the Mirror about the background to her decision to vote for a moratorium on fracking during Monday’s debate on the Infrastructure Bill. She says: “What is so worrying about this is that the two largest parties have rammed the Infrastructure Bill through Parliament with changes to our ancient trespass laws, meaning no one has a choice whether fracking happens under their house, garden, business or farmland. And tenant farmers, market gardeners and landowners will not be able to protect themselves against and any loss or damage to property, stock, crops or land as a result of fracking. This is deeply unfair. Fracking is no act of God. It is an act of man. But those who are at risk will have no control over events nor any way to protect themselves. Who will protect us if this all goes wrong?”

Anti-fracking campaigners protest during BBC’s Question Time News North Wales reports that 40 anti-fracking campaigners descended on Glyndwr University in Wrexham on Thursday during the broadcast of Question Time. Members of Frack Free Wrexham handed out leaflets as the studio audience took their seats. Police were later called, the website says, after campaigners were said to have banged on doors from outside the studio. Last year, Wrexham Council’s rejection of planning permission to drill at Borras was overruled by the Welsh planning inspectorate.

Question Time: Hain flounders over Welsh fracking question The Daily Wales reports on how the Question Time panel answered “Why was a democratic decision to reject a fracking application in Wrexsam had been overturned by Westminster”. Peter Hain, MP, said “It’s a reserved matter for Westminster, these decisions.” The questioner responded: “So the democratically elected representatives in this area were overruled because of the potential for money to be made? Is that right?” Mr Hain replied: “To be fair, energy is such a strategic issue of national self-sufficiency and security and you have to have a strategic plan.”

IGas shares fell again IGas shares closed at 26.18 after reaching 33.16 on 29/1/15.

Fermanagh to host Europe’s first ever anti-fracking conference Sinn Fein’s MEP Martina Anderson and MP Michelle Gildernew launch an anti-fracking conference to take place in Fermanagh on Friday 20th February. Ms Gildernew said the conference would highlight how Sinn Fein will continue its opposition to fracking.

 29th January 2015

Fracking and shale gas plan hold-ups across the UK Three-minute film by BBC Daily Politics on Cuadrilla’s two planning applications to frack and drill for shale gas in Lancashire

First company to officially explore ‘fracking’ in Nottinghamshire The Nottingham Post reports that IGas has made a scoping request on shale gas drilling to Nottinghamshire County Council. The council has five weeks to comment on the request, which the Post says, sets out environmental issues IGas consider they need to include in any future planning application.

Debate rages over fracking lorries’ new planned route The Lancashire Evening Post reports on the revised lorry routes to Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking site at Roseacre Wood. One proposal is to bring traffic through Broughton and Woodplumpton near Preston, sparking a debate among residents, local councillors and Evening Post readers. Preston councillor, Tom Davies, says the idea of routing heavy traffic via the already-congested Broughton traffic lights junction is a non-starter.

Decision on fracking put on hold … along with democracy, say Manchester campaigners Mancunian matters reports comments by Manchester anti-fracking campaigner, Martin Porter that Lancashire County Council may have been bullied into deferring the decision on whether or not to approve Cuadrilla’s planning applications. Mr Porter, of Frack Free Greater Manchester, suggests Cuadrilla threatened a legal challenge if the decision was not deferred. “It’s frustrating that basic democracy has been put on hold thanks to a corporate lawyer”, he said. “There was no doubt which direction the decision was leaning given the opposition outside the chamber yesterday, no doubt at all.”

Corporations must not be allowed to dictate fracking issue The Guardian has a letter from a Lancaster couple who accuse Cuadrilla of corporate blackmail over its request for a delay to the decision on its Fylde planning applications. Lancashire County Council’s decision was “was apparently taken in the light of advice from its legal team that Cuadrilla could sue the council if it did not consider the proposed changes before voting on the applications”, the couple said.

Gas use will increase Professor Paul Younger, of Glasgow University, in a letter to The Guardian, says the UK will increase us of gas for power generation as coal-fired and nuclear plans are decommissioned. “The worst outcome”, he says, ”would be for us to mimic Germany, where problems in balancing renewables on the grid recently prompted a “dash for coal”, reversing decades of progress in reducing carbon emissions”.

Fracking concerns must not stop plan Fracking engineer, Dr Chris Green, lays down concerns about noise and traffic in a report for Wigan Today. He says a spike in traffic at a test drill site would be minimal and noise levels would not cause disruption. He says test drills like those planned by Cuadrilla in Fylde are required to accurately assess the amount of available shale gas.

Green Councillors want fracking banned The Edinburgh Reporter says Green Councillors are to seek council support for an outright ban on fracking in the Edinburgh area. The six-strong Green Group is tabling a motion for next week’s full council meeting, pointing out risks of unconventional gas, fracking and coal gasification, and the inconsistency of fracking with the council’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 42% by 2020.

Labour pushes government to end confusion over redacted fracking report Business Green reports the Environment Secretary, Liz Truss, again refused to give details on a heavily redacted report on potential impact of fracking on rural communities, despite being pushed by her shadow, Maria Eagle. Labour sources say they are investigating alternative parliamentary routes that could be used to compel the government to release the report.

Anglers welcome “fracking climb-down” The Angling Trust welcomes the Government’s change to the Infrastructure Bill which would prevent fracking in National Parks or protected areas. Martin Salter, National Campaigns Coordinator said the Angling Trust had spent time talking to sister organisations in the US. “The message from across the pond was crystal clear and we have been lobbying furiously for a proper regulation to protect vulnerable rivers and groundwater sources. These new protections are hard won but vital in ensuring the future health of the environment upon which angling depends.”

Unite agrees Labour donation The Unite union’s executive council agrees to donate £1.5m to the Labour Party’s campaign funds. The council expressed concern that the Tory-led government could be re-elected on a “tide of big business cash”, while Labour remains under-resourced. Unite’s conference committed to “encourage the Labour Party and Labour controlled councils to take actions formally opposing the application of hydraulic fracking technology within the UK”. On 26th January, most Labour MPs abstained in a vote on a moratorium against fracking.

Denmark gears up for fight against fracking RTCC News reports that the fight against fracking is about to get underway in Denmark as the French oil company, Total, prepares to explore for shale gas in the country for the first time. A rig is expected to arrive near the northern town of Frederikshavn next month. So far opposition to fracking has been muted. But Tarjei Haaland, a climate and energy expert at Greenpeace Denmark, told RTCC that the group was launching an anti-fracking campaign next week.

Blackpool hosts major fracking conference The Blackpool Gazette previews the GMB conference on fracking at Blackpool Football Club. Speakers include Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden, Ken Cronin from onshore industry body UKOOG, Sean Sweeney, director and founder of Global Labor Institute from Cornell University, New York State, Lytham-based oil and gas engineer Mike Hill and Tony Bosworth from Friends of the Earth.

IGas share rise IGas shares closed at 33.16, up from 20.25 on 28th January

28th January 2015

Scottish government announces moratorium on planning permissions and permits for onshore unconventional gas and oil Our report 

Lancashire County Council delays decision on Cuadrilla’s two Fylde fracking applications. Our report and reaction

Should fracking be allowed in the UK? An online survey of 1,000 people by Snap.Pa finds 40% are against fracking, 25% in favour, 11% happy for it to go ahead but “not in my backyard” and 24% don’t know. Men were much more in favour of fracking, with 37% backing it in the UK compared with just 13% of female respondents. People earning more than £40,000 were also more likely to back it. People aged 18-29 were most unsure about fracking. 34% of them said they “didn’t know” if it should go ahead, compared with only 14% of over-60s who were unsure.

Cuadrilla’s two planning applications for fracking in the Fylde district of Lancashire come before councillors this morning. Our preview report

Fossil fuels should fund natural asset recovery The Natural Capital Committee concludes fossil fuel firms should compensate for the damage they cause to natural assets and fund their recovery. A report by the NCC puts forward a 25-year-plan to stop the decline of natural capital. Financing should be provided by a wealth fund, the report says. Dieter Helm, the NCC Chair, tells ENDS report, this would specifically cover the depletion of non-renewable assets.

UKOOG comment on Scottish Government announcement on fracking UKOOG chief executive, Ken Cronin, defends fracking and onshore oil and gas developments in Scotland. “We have had a well regulated industry in Scotland for many years”, he says. “We have drilled over 30 wells in the last 20 years. One of the first hydraulic fractures in the UK took place in Airdrie nearly 50 years ago and fracking also took place inside the Glasgow City boundary in 1989 at Easterhouse.”

27th January 2015

Round up reaction to votes on fracking clauses in the Infrastructure Bill from environmental groups, politics, finance, media, industry and government

Tessa Munt resigns over fracking as Vince Cable’s parliamentary aid The BBC reports that the Lib Dem MP for Wells, Tessa Munt, has resigned as a parliamentary aide to Business Secretary Vince Cable after voting against the government on fracking. Ms Munt said she would not compromise on her opposition to fracking. She defied the party whip to support a rebel amendment seeking a moratorium on shale gas extraction. The BBC reported she said her “cannot be reconciled with the government on this matter” and she would “continue to campaign vocally” against fracking.

Devolve control of fracking to Wales – Carwyn Jones The South Wales Argus reports that First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, said control of fracking should be devolved from Westminster and the country should then consider a moratorium

26th January 2015

MPs vote against a moratorium but Labour’s proposed extra controls on fracking are included in the Infrastructure Bill. Vote results. Links to key points on the debate: 3.30-4pm, 4pm-5pm, 5-5.30pm

Westminster rally calls for moratorium on fracking An estimated 400-500 people took part in a rally against fracking outside the Houses of Parliament. Speakers included MPs Caroline Lucas and Norman Baker, campaigners Vivienne Westwood and Bianca Jagger, former climate diplomat John Ashton and founder of Britain and Ireland Frack Free, Vanessa Vine. Video of the rally. Anti-fracking campaigners also gathered in Belfast.

A report by the Environmental Audit Committee of the House of Commons calls for a moratorium on fracking to meet UK carbon budgets and review uncertainties about environmental risks Our report

Unions urge Labour to save fracking The Times reports that two of Britain’s biggest unions are urging Labour MPs not to support a ban on fracking in the Infrastructure Bill debate. GMB letter to MPs

George Osborne demands rapid progress on fracking The Guardian reports the Chancellor has requested that ministers make dozens of interventions to fast-track fracking as a “personal priority”, including the delivery of numerous “asks” from shale gas company Cuadrilla. The list of requests are laid out in a leaked letter to the chancellor’s cabinet colleagues. They include interventions in local planning, and offering public land for potential future drilling. Anti-fracking campaigners claim the letter reveals collusion with the industry, while Labour said it showed the government was an “unabashed cheerleader for fracking”.

IGas shares burned by calls for a fracking freeze The Telegraph says calls for a freeze on fracking in Britain wiped out more than quarter of the value in IGas shares on Monday, as the only listed shale gas explorer’s business came in for further scrutiny. The Aim-listed company’s stock fell 27.8pc, or 7.5p, to 19.5p

Fresh blow to UK fracking as MPs call for moratorium The FT reports on the EAC call for a moratorium on fracking and warning that the government was rushing through “undemocratic” laws to help the industry. Ken Cronin, chief executive of UKOOG, the industry body, said the committee’s “rushed report” ignored the evidence from the “properly regulated and safe industry”.

NFU Mutual clarifies its position on fracking insurance Farmers Guardian says the farm insurer, NFU Mutual has sought to clarify its stance on insurance related to fracking after reports that would not pay out for incidents related to the process. The company said a farm not involved in fracking but which suffered damage as a result of the process, for example by shale gas extraction on a neighbouring property causing building subsidence, would be covered. So too would other rural properties in the area who insured with it. But any farmer who had chosen to make a commercial decision to be involved in fracking would not be covered for damage incurred as a result of the process.

Scotland hardens stance against fracking The FT reports Scotland is set to lead resistance to the fracking of shale gas in the UK, with both the Scottish National party and the new leader of Scottish Labour saying they would impose tough conditions on the drilling technique. The SNP government at Holyrood will this week set out plans to strengthen its “precautionary approach” to fracking and believes there should be a moratorium before new licences are issued.

25th January 2015

Former climate diplomat urges thousands to attend rally calling for a moratorium on the Infrastructure Bill Guest post

Tory Lord calls on the Government to overrule any refusal of planning permission to frack in Lancashire See transcript in Fracking Week in Westminster

Fracking: We should not believe anything “officialdom” tells us In a letter to the Observer, Mike Turner writes “As a resident of Fylde with some oil and gas experience, I feel there has been too much said and written about fracking. The technology exists (with one exception) to carry out this process with as close to zero risk as any human activity. The technical exception is the radioactive content of the water that comes back to the surface. But he says existing treatment processes will not even begin to cope and the regulatory system is totally dysfunctional with a group of agencies each reporting to a different government department. He says the way the debate has been conducted as a case study in how not to do it. “The public is justified in disbelieving anything officialdom tells it”.

The Rev Mike Plunkett, also writing to Observer, says the paper’s report from last week missed the fundamental issue of climate change. He asks: When will it be part of our normal understanding that climate change is here and unless we plan to reduce the extraction of fossil fuel from the earth drastically there will be a build-up of catastrophes for human civilisation.

Fracking: Lancashire County Council poised to approve two controversial shale gas sites, despite objections The Independent reports LCC is coming under intense pressure from pro-fracking lobbyists to approve Cuadrilla’s two applications. The paper says the North West Energy Task Force, which is supported by Cuadrilla and its financial backer the gas giant, Centrica, argues that the traffic and noise issues are “not grounds for objections”. The fracking industry has also been quick to point out that Lancashire’s planning officers had previously concluded the risks of fracking were “very low if regulated properly”. However, there are mounting concerns about the way fracking is regulated”.

Joe Corre: scion of punk royalty set on halting the fracking revolution Terry Macalister in The Observer reports on why Vivienne Westwood’s son is opposed to fracking. He tells the paper: “I spend a hell of a lot of time on this issue because it has woken me up to the fact that something has to change – in the political world and in the way government is run. When I first started looking at fracking, I thought it was not that important: we probably need this gas. But once you start to peel back the curtain, it’s like looking at this pond of slime, and that has encouraged me to become much more politically focused on this election and to get these people [government ministers] out of positions of authority”.

Warning from Green Party over the potential for fracking in Exeter The Exeter Express and Echo reports warning from the Green Party that Exeter should brace itself for fracking. East Devon and Torquay are currently under offer for fracking licences. The party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Exeter calls on MPs to support a moratorium on fracking.

Do you remember fracking earthquakes on Fylde? Avril Hesson, of Burnley Friends of the Earth, writing in the Burnley Express spells out what she sees as the consequences of fracking.

Burnham’s MP set to vote on fracking in parliamentary debate Tessa Munt, the Lib Dem MP for Burnham-on-Sea is set to call for a halt on fracking plans, Burnham-on-Sea.com reports. “The UK Government should announce a moratorium on fracking, not ‘go all out for shale’ as David Cameron insists. I have used my Government position as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Vince Cable to push hard for a halt and a re-think.”

MPs demand moratorium on fracking The Sunday Times reports an influential committee of MPs is expected to call for a moratorium in the interests of combatting climate change.

Don’t back the frack pleas to MP Todmorden News reports that the Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker is coming under increasing pressure to back the council’s will to keep Calderdale fracking free. Friends of the Earth’s Helen Chunso met Mr Whittaker at the Houses of Parliament. She said: “The people of Calderdale have a right to protect their health as New York state and other countries have by banning fracking.” In a statement, Mr Whittaker said: “Shale gas is a promising new potential energy resource which could create thousands of jobs, bring in billions in tax revenues and secure our energy supply for the future. However, let me assure you that I strongly believe fracking operations should be safe, and must not be at the expense of local communities or the environment”.

24th January 2015

Cuadrilla pledges to spend £m on quieter fracking The Telegraph reports it will spend up to £2.7m on each of its proposed fracking sites in the Fylde area of Lancashire to gets its planning applications approved.

Are the frackers in full retreat? Geoffrey Lean in the Telegraph says there are signs that the oil and gas industry is starting to realise it has to admit mistakes, engage with the audience and move away from its traditional tendency to “announce, decide and defend”. But he says “the road to recovery is a lot rougher than just doing it right in the first place”.

Fracking not fit for purpose says MPs as Salford case adjourned until March The Salford Star reports that the city’s MPs are being urged to support a moratorium on fracking when the Infrastructure Bill comes before parliament on Monday. A court case which will test the impact of shale gas drilling, based on evidence from the IGas site at Barton Moss in Salford, was adjourned until March. Press restrictions are in place, but the Salford Star says the result could have huge implications for the future of the industry.

23rd January 2015

Cuadrilla asks for delay to decision on Fylde planning applications + council reaction Our report

Rathlin Energy’s application for second drill site at West Newton in East Yorkshire 14/04107/STPLF is published To view click here then put application number in search box

Egdon Resources applies for environmental permits The Environment Agency announces that Egdon Resources has applied for a permit (EPR/CB3507CU/A001) for test drilling at its well site at Laughton, near Gainsborough in Lincolnshire. The company has also applied for a radioactive substances permit for the same site. The consultation closes on 20th February 2015. Link to details

Third Energy application – Pickering The Environment Agency also announces that Third Energy has applied for a permit (EPR/BB3699EY/A0010) to dispose of 556 cubic meters per day of waste produced water from its gas production wells into an abandoned well at its Pickering site in North Yorkshire. A public consultation closes on 4th March 2015. Details and link to consultation

Third Energy application – Ebberston South Third Energy is also applying to the Environment Agency for a permit (EPR/BB3699AW/A001) to dispose of 556 cubic meters of produced water into a gas well at its Ebberston South Wellsite at Ebberston in North Yorkshire. A public consultation closes on 4th March 2015 Details and link to consultation

Ministers required to seek advice on climate impacts of fracking under new government amendment to Infrastructure Bill Our report

Tories join shale vote rebellion The Times reports that ministers are increasingly worried they face defeat on Monday when they try to push through Commons legislation to make shale drilling easier. The paper says Government sources admitted that moves for a temporary ban on fracking were “gaining traction” as MPs from all three main parties prepare to face the electorate.

Steady rise in serious pollution incidents in England ENDS reports the EA has revealed a significant and steady rise in the number of pollution incidents in England over the past year. The regulator failed to meet its pollution performance target for the fourth successive quarter, despite moving the goalposts, ENDS says.

IGas shares just above 52-week low IGas shares closed the week at 27, just above its 52-week low of 26.4. The 52-week high is 149.775.

Misleading production tests may have helped fuel the shale boom Bloomberg reports oil companies may have misled investors on how much oil they could actually produce. Several studies have found that the results of one-day production tests on oil wells – upon which investors rely – did not say enough about how they would perform over 12 months. Some producers open flow valves to full (not generally used in regular production). Others install pumps to create artificial pressure or measure just the first eight hours of flow and then multiply by three to represent a full day’s output, Bloomberg said.

Campaigners lobby Chester MP on Infrastructure Bill Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and 38 degrees hand in e-petition opposing clauses in the Infrastructure Bill that promote fracking to Chester Conservative MP, Stephen Mosley

Villagers in Kincardine urged to voice concerns over fracking The Dunfermline Press reports that Kincardine residents concerned about fracking are being urged to attend a meeting this month to voice their concerns. Ineos acquired more than 700 sq of drilling licences across central Scotland. The meeting will be held from 7-9pm on Wednesday 28th January at Grangemouth Town Hall, Bo’ness Road, Grangemouth. All members of the public are free to attend.

Message to the UK: the fracking bridge is already burning Naomi Klein, writing in OpEdNews says government support for shale mirrors what happened in the US: industry pitched shale gas as a “bridge” to a clean energy future; it funded studies understating greenhouse gas impacts and over-estimated production forecasts; tried to take advantage of geo-political crisis to push through export plans; and when all else failed criminalised peaceful activism. Despite this communities in North America are in full revolt, she says. “It may seem that frackers in the UK and elsewhere will stop at nothing to have their way. But thanks to the rising global climate movement, this so-called bridge is already burning. And it’s long past time to choose a different path”.

Over 5,000 back Scottish Greens fracking petition The Scottish Greens said its petition calling on the UK Government to halt plans to award licenses to frack for gas in Scotland got 5,300 signatures in five days.

22nd January 2015

Growing list of MPs calling for moratorium on fracking. 20+ amendments to Infrastructure Bill on fracking and oil and gas. Our report

Ban fracking, says former Tory environment secretary Caroline Spelman The Guardian reports that Caroline Spelman is among a group of MPs from the Environmental Audi Committee calling for a moratorium on fracking. Her comments come ahead of a report by the committee which is expected to conclude that fracking could derail efforts to tackle climate change. Telegraph report Click Green report

Cuadrilla doubles efforts to force fracking rethink in Lancashire The Lancashire Evening Post reports Cuadrilla says the “minor” issues of noise and traffic in its planning applications to frack in the Fylde can be resolved. A company spokesman said: “We believe, supported by independent experts, that we have come forward with measures that would mitigate the noise of drilling and fracturing and the proposed noise levels are within the limits set out in government guidance.”

Campaigners tell council to throw out fracking bid The Blackpool Gazette reports on the call by rural residents to Lancashire County Council to throw out bids to explore for shale gas on the Fylde coast. Diane Evans, of Preston New Road Action Group, said members shed tears of joy when they heard the news planning officers had recommended refusal of the two bids to carry out exploratory fracking. She said: “We are absolutely delighted we just can’t believe it. I was in tears when I heard. The way things have been going we expected the planning officers to recommend allowing the pending application so we are surprised but delighted. The councillors should take their advice and reject the proposals”.

Anti-fracking campaigners call for a united front The Kirkintilloch Herald reports that an anti-fracking group in Bishopbriggs is appealing to fellow pressure groups in East Dunbartonshire to lend their weight to its campaign. Don’t Frack The Briggs wants all anti-fracking groups to come together at a meeting on Wednesday 11th February to step up the fight against fracking for shale oil and gas.

Geraint Davies: My bill puts safety before fracking Yahoo News reports comments by Geraint Davies MP that his Fracking Regulation Bill, presented on 21st January, would make the contamination of water and emission of harmful gases from fracking illegal. The Swansea West MP said: “I’m committed to ensure that our environment, water and air are not contaminated by an unregulated rush to scar and poison Wales in the name of fracking. The standards of safety that the Government is requiring the Environment Agency to apply for water and air contaminated by fracking could put the public at risk”.

Final chance for Government to ensure fracking regime is safe and sustainable – Flint and Greatrex The Labour Party reports that it has tabled an amendment to prevent fracking in the UK unless 13 loopholes in regulation are closed. Shadow energy secretary, Caroline Flint, said: “David Cameron has repeatedly ignored people’s genuine and legitimate environmental concerns over shale gas. Despite clear evidence that existing regulations for shale gas are not fit for purpose, the Government seems prepared to push ahead with fracking at any cost”.

MPs face prospect of fracking in areas which feed water supplies Analysis by Greenpeace finds 2/3 of coalition MPs could face the prospect of fracking in areas that feed water supplies in their constituencies, despite public opposition. 220 Conservative and Lib Dem MPs have an overlap between areas being made available for onshore oil and gas licences and groundwater source protection zones, which feed aquifers. Polling by YouGov for Greenpeace found 56% of people were not in favour of allowing fracking in groundwater protection zones. 36% thought fracking in the UK would be safe.

21st January 2015

Lancashire County Council planners recommend refusal of Cuadrilla’s applications to frack at two sites in the Fylde. Our summary of the decision. Detailed report. Reaction  Lancashire Evening Post report on reaction

267,000 petition delivered to Downing Street Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, WWF and other groups deliver a petition calling on David Cameron to reconsider his “all out for shale” policy. Guardian report

Anti-fracking campaigners present 6,000+ signature petition to Lancashire County Council Our report

Cuadrilla fracking plans: noise ‘as quiet as a library’ deemed unacceptable The Telegraph quotes Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s chief executive as saying that 42db, the sound limit set by Government for developments, was comparable to a library and the recommendation by planners set a tough new precedent.

Lancashire’s fracking nimbys will condemn Britain to blackouts Commodities editor, Andrew Critchlow, tells Telegraph readers “Enjoy your gas central heating while you can because the remarkable decision to effectively block Cuadrilla from fracking in Lancashire could have dire consequences for the future of Britain’s energy security and the economy unless it is reversed”. He says domestic reserves of gas could be exhausted in a decade, making the UK almost entirely dependent on imports.

Council urged to take anti-fracking stance The Malton Mercury reports that Frack Free Ryedale handed in a 1,000 signature petition to Ryedale District Council calling on the council to publicly oppose fracking and all other forms of unconventional fossil fuel extraction. The campaigners also urged the council to reflect this anti-fracking position in all consultations with North Yorkshire County Council and the North York Moors National Park Authority. The paper says FFR hopes the petition will trigger a debate but the council said information on its website, which stated a minimum of 750 signatures was needed, was out of date and the limit now stood at 2,675.

IGas share price fall continues IGas shares close at 30.30. (The fall continues in early trading on 22/1/15, standing at 29.63 at 09.28hrs). The price in June 2014 was 141.3.

Environment Agency pension fund tells oil groups to go green The FT reports that the EA’s pension fund has urged BP and Royal Dutch Shell to invest in renewable energy and do more to tackle climate change. The £2.5bn fund has joined more than 150 other investors, including the Church of England and several large local authority funds. They have filed shareholder resolutions urging both companies to take more action on global warming. Last month, The Independent reported that the EA pension fund was investing in industries it regulated.

Doncaster residents voice opposition to fracking plans The Star reports Misson residents have formed a community action group in response to plans by IGas to apply for planning permission for an exploratory drilling in the neighbourhood.

Give the people of Wales the power to decide on fracking Plaid Cymru’s Llyr Gruffydd calls for Wales to be granted the same power as Scotland to protect its communities from fracking. He said: “Plaid Cymru wants Wales to have responsibility over fracking so that we can introduce a moratorium on a process that carries a host of unknown risks for the environment and public health. The Scottish Government has made this happen there, but unfortunately the Welsh Government has done absolutely nothing to stand up for Wales’ interests”.

Budget boost needed to fight fracking Green MSPs call for more support from the Scottish government for communities facing fracking. The Scottish Greens launched a petition on Monday urging the UK government to freeze onshore licensing decisions in Scotland. By today 4,500+ people had signed. Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow said: “Many councils may soon find themselves on the frontline of fracking developments, so it’s vital that they have maximum ability to scrutinise this dirty industry. The Scottish Government needs to come off the fence on fracking and join the Greens’ call for a moratorium on this dead-end industry.

MPs present new fracking bill Geraint Davies, along with Kelvin Hopkins, David Winnick, Jim Sheridan and Jim Shannon, present a Bill to require the Secretary of State to measure and regulate the impact of unconventional gas extraction on air and water quality and on greenhouse gas emissions; and for connected purposes. Details

20th January 2015

Fracking on Co-op Bank black list The Guardian reports that the Co-operative Bank is to stop lending to companies involved in fracking. In the fifth review of the bank’s ethical policy, human rights were top concerns of the bank’s customers but UK-focussed issues such as fracking and the environment moved up, taking the place of international development and animal welfare. The policy is based on responses from 74,000 customers and staff.

Fracking policy and the pollution of British democracy Paul Mobbs, writing in the Ecologist, says UK politicians and officials are studiously ignoring growing evidence that fracking is an “economic and environmental disaster”. He says industry PR is increasingly remote from reality, public opinion and democratic values.

Crawberry Hill camp evicted HEY Frack Off reports the eviction of the Protection Camp outside Rathlin Energy’s Crawberry Hill drilling site near Beverley. East Riding of Yorkshire Council said the camp, on the verges of Walkington Heads, was dangerous. The camp has been at the site for more than eight months, HEY Frack Off said. The eviction was requested by Rathlin Energy. Jon Mager of Frack Free East Yorkshire said: “It is particularly shocking in a society with a free press that even the media were prevented from walking down the road to bear witness to what was going on.” Some people at site found their phones could not take pictures or video, as if electronically jammed, as also happened previously at West Newton. Yorkshire Post report on three arrests during eviction  Hull Daily Mail report

New application for Foel Fynyddau Forest Neath Port Talbot Council validates a new application from UK Methane Ltd for drilling an exploratory borehole at Foel Fynyddau Forest Near Pontrhydyfen Cwmavon. The council refused a previous application by the company in September last year, on the grounds of unacceptable noise.

Will IGas Energy Plc ask shareholders for cash in 2015? Yahoo finance reports on the IGas share price, currently trading at around 33pm. It says the company’s joint house broker Canaccord issued a note last month saying that “if the oil price were to stay around current levels for an extended period then the various covenants concerning the company’s bonds … may be tested” — notably, a liquidity covenant that requires IGas to maintain minimum cash of $15m. The oil price was then around $60 a barrel but is now nearer $45, Yahoo Finance says.

19th January 2015

UK’s shale gas revolution falls flat with just 11 new wells planned for 2015 Analysis of drilling company statements and planning applications by The Guardian finds 11 sites are planned for shale gas development this year. So far, the paper says, seven shale gas wells have been drilled. (The article includes a link to our report of comments made last month by UKOOG chief executive, Ken Cronin, who described progress as “glacially-slow” compared to other countries.

Lancashire fracking: jobs claim is over-hyped, FoE claim Friends of the Earth says the number of jobs that would be generated by fracking in Lancashire has been over-hyped and more employment would come from investing in renewable energy. The BBC quotes Cuadrilla saying fracking would create 1,700 jobs in Lancashire in the first year. But FoE says this will be short-term and will fall to under 200 after three years

Scottish government decision on fracking imminent Campaigners in Scotland believe a series of imminent decisions could force the SNP government to come off the fence on fracking, the Guardian reports. This week SNP MPs will have an opportunity to vote on an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill, a proposed moratorium on fracking, which Friends of the Earth Scotland argues will be a crucial test of intent. And in the next few weeks, the only active application in Scotland – for coal-bed methane extraction at Airth, near Falkirk – will land on Scottish government ministers’ desks for a final decision.

Lancashire companies rush to sign up for shale portal The Blackpool Gazette reports that an online portal attracted 100 expressions of interested within three hours in bidding for shale gas work if it is given the go-ahead in the Fylde district of Lancashire. The portal was set up by Lancashire Chambers of Commerce and Cuadrilla, which is applying permission to frack up to eight wells at two sites in the Fylde.

18th January 2015

A county divided: is Lancashire ready for its fracking revolution The Observer reports from the Fylde area of Lancashire where Cuadrilla’s planning applications for fracking will be decided in under a fortnight. The piece includes interviews with industry insider, Mike Hill, Cuadrilla’s Francis Egan and Eric Vaughan, members of Residents’ Action Against Fylde Fracking and Stay Blackpool president, Claire Smith. Vaughan tells the paper talk of severe health problems are crazy: “If you really thought that, you should be chained to the door of something”.

Gas and scare fracking boss hits out at protesters The Sun on Sunday reports that Cuadrilla’s CEO, Francis Egan, let fly at “scaremongering” tactics of campaigners who claim fracking will close schools and hospitals and raise breast cancer. Lancashire County council planners are expected to decide this week whether to recommend Cuadrilla’s plans to drill up to eight wells across two sites in the Fylde area near Blackpool.

Cuadrilla won’t take no for an answer in Lancashire In an interview with the Telegraph, Cuadrilla’s CEO Francis Egan, says if Lancashire County Council’s planning committee does not approve the company’s application on January 28th and 29th “We will have to take a look and see why – it won’t mean we are walking away from it, especially after all this waiting.”

Cuadrilla chief Francis Egan: Scaremongering fracking opponents make me angry Cuadrilla’s CEO tells the Telegraph “I’ve seen people who are opposed to it saying we should stop this ‘headlong dash for shale gas’. The facts just don’t support that. We’ve fracked one well in 2011 and done nothing since.” He says he hopes to win over public opinion when the process begins: “Once you get started at least you can point to a physical site with operations that people can go and observe, measure, touch, feel, see. I think that will make quite a difference to explaining what it is – and probably more importantly, what it isn’t”. But he criticises what he calls “scaremongering” by opponents. “I get quite angry about it frankly. If people want to object to it I have no issue with that, but if they are preying on people’s fears in an unfounded way then I think that’s completely irresponsible”.

Oil price fall cuts fracking costs for Cuadrilla The Telegraph reports comments by Cuadrilla’s CEO that the company stands to gain from falling oil prices. “We don’t make decisions on today’s prices,” he said. “This resource, if it does get developed, will get developed over 20, 30 maybe 40 years. From our point of view price is important, but what it is doing on a day-to-day basis is less important than your view on price over the longer term.” He says there is no such thing as a break-even price. Cost of extraction is a function of the cost of people and services. As prices in the market come down, the cost of people and services come down – so the break-even price comes down. In the short term it’s actually quite good because the prices of materials and services are reducing very significantly”.

Greens to use Scottish Parliament debate to call for fracking planning fund The Herald Scotland says the Greens will seek to amend the Scottish budget to include a new fund to help planning authorities cope with applications for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

17th January 2015

“We are being used as shale guinea pig”, anti-fracking campaigners say The Blackpool Gazette reports comments by anti-fracking campaigners that if they win the battle to stop energy firm Cuadrilla Resources getting permission to drill at two sites on the coast, it will be “like Accrington Stanley beating Chelsea in the FA Cup”. The paper says around 60 residents from rural Fylde met in Elswick Village Hall to discuss concerns about Cuadrilla’s application. Campaigner Barry Warner says the two proposed sites are being used as a “guinea pig” because fracking on other locations wouldn’t be allowed.

Former Misson missile site closer to a fracking future The Retford Times reports IGas has submitted a scoping request to Nottinghamshire County Council, in advance of its expected application to drill an exploratory borehole at Misson. The campaign group, Bassetlaw Against Fracking, handed a 2,000-signature petition opposing fracking in the area to the council. IGas has established a liaison group with local people. The proposed site was used by RAF Finningley as a launch area for rocket missiles during the Cold War.

16th January 2015

The Environment Agency issues environmental permits for Cuadrilla’s proposed operation to frack up to four wells at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton in the Fylde district of Lancashire. The EA says the permits set conditions to protect ground and surface water and air quality and to ensure safe storage, management and disposal of waste. It says over the past six months it has “conducted a rigorous assessment of Cuadrilla’s applications and carried out two periods of extensive public consultation”.

The organisation’s Steve Molyneux, Environment Manager for Lancashire, says: “We are confident the permits issued will ensure people and the environment are protected. The right controls are in place to manage waste and the flaring of gas safely, and protect local water resources….Should Cuadrilla begin exploration, we will ensure the permit conditions are enforced”.

Cuadrilla delighted over Preston New Road permits Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan says: “This is an important seal of approval from the regulator that the exploration of shale gas can be done responsibly. This follows a robust and rigorous review of our permit applications, and unequivocally demonstrates that, as we have committed, the local environment will be well protected throughout our proposed exploratory operations.”

Campaigners disappointed Residents Action Against Fylde Fracking say: “While we are disappointed, we are not surprised as the EA announced last November that it was minded to grant environmental permits to both the Little Plumpton and Roseacre Wood sites. The Government is rushing to get laws in place and loopholes closed before the determination days on the 28 and 29 January”

“EA has little or no experience of regulating high volume hydraulic fracturing” Fylde oil and gas engineer, Mike Hill, writes: In my opinion the EA are not fully appreciating the health impacts of fracking and its consequences for the environment. Without the use of shale gas specific regulations and a proper independent monitoring/enforcement of those regulation then this business could have serious implications for the lives of residents and the health of unborn infants. The EA will not admit that they do not understand fracking. It’s a total disgrace; we are going to witness the misery of unregulated fracking coming to the fore on the Fylde!”

“Fracking will destroy the business I built from scratch” Friends of the Earth reports comments by John Tootill, who started Maple Farm Nursery, near Cuadrilla’s proposed Preston New Road site, 31 years ago. He fears if fracking comes to the area his business will crumble.

Anti-fracking campaigner overturns conviction for obstruction following Balcombe protests – but conviction for criminal damage stands Our report

Pope takes a stance against fracking EaglefordTexas.com reports that in 2013 the Pope gave an interview to the film director Fernando Solanas suggesting he supported the anti-fracking movement. The interview apparently took place after Solanas finished filming The Fracking War about hydraulic fracturing in Argentina. The Argentinian government banned the film but it has been posted on YouTube.

West Lothian Council asks for a moratorium on fracking The Council says it will write to the Scottish Government to request a moratorium on fracking to extract oil and gas. A spokesperson said: “The council is opposed to fracking and has agreed to write to the Scottish Government to request a moratorium on hydraulic fracking until the full impact of hydraulic fracking, including health impact studies, is understood.”

Fracking meetings to be held in Denny and Grangemouth The Falkirk Herald reports on two public meetings to be held to discuss the potential impacts of unconventional gas drilling in central Scotland. Denny and Dunipace Against Unconventional Gas is holding a meeting on Wednesday 21st January and the Falkirk branch of the Green Party has organised a similar meeting at Grangemouth Town Hall a week later.

15th January 2015

Record 25,000 representations on Cuadrilla’s Lancashire planning applications The Blackpool Gazette reports that an unprecedented 25,000 representations have been made about Cuadrilla’s plans to frack at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood on the Fylde coast of Lancashire. This is the largest number of responses to an application at the authority. The large majority were objections.

UK’s first independent research to monitor fracking A UK consortium, led by the British Geological Survey (BGS), which will monitor groundwater, air quality, seismicity and ground movements at Cuadrilla’s two proposed fracking sites in Lancashire. This work is additional to the operator’s own monitoring and that required by regulators. It is designed to enhance the scientific understanding and knowledge of the effects of shale gas operations on the environment and support peer reviewed science. All results of the research will be open and made freely available to the public. Bristol University press release  Lancashire Evening Post  Engineering and Technology Magazine

Balcombe anti-fracking campaigner appeals against three minute-obstruction conviction Our report

Give the Assembly the same powers over fracking as it will gain over wind energy, a leading Tory MP argues Wales Online reports Aberconwy Conservative MP Guto Bebb  is calling for the National Assembly to have the same power over fracking as it has over wind farms. He said: “My view is the fracking issue should be dealt with in the same manner as wind farms. [If] we are increasing the scale and scope which can be devolved on wind farms then the same scale and scope should be devolved in relation to fracking.”

We must never allow fracking in Merthyr Tydfil  Wales Online reports Friends of the Earth Cymru has begun a petition calling on Merthyr Tydfil Council to prevent fracking in the area. At present, there are no fracking plans in the borough but there have been in other parts of the South Wales valleys.

Yorkshire is in fracking frontline The Yorkshire Post reports on evidence submitted by Frack Free Ryedale to the fracking risks inquiry by the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee. Our report on written evidence

New £2m fund targets ‘sustainable shale’  Business Green reports that £2m of public funding will be spent on 19 projects designed to improve the sustainability and safety of fracking. Research will test new approaches to fracking that promise to curb the environmental impact of the controversial technology.

Business leaders launch fracking supply portal The Lancaster Guardian reports Lancashire Chambers of Commerce has teamed up with Cuadrilla Resources to launch an online supply chain portal for local businesses who want to get ready for opportunities in the county’s shale gas industry. The portal will allow local companies to register their interest in becoming a supplier to Cuadrilla, keep up to date with the latest developments with the exploration programme including future contracting opportunities, and find out how to meet the quality and safety standards required.

Calls for Scottish-style fracking powers in Wrexham The Daily Post reports the call comes as amid a bitter on-going battle between drilling companies and protesters in Wrexham. It says Wales, England and Northern Ireland will be covered by measures in the Infrastructure Bill, designed to make it easier to drill for the gas, but not Scotland. Jonathan Edwards, Plaid Cymru Treasury spokesman said: “If licensing and planning powers over fracking are to be given to Scotland, Wales should also receive these powers.”

Schlumberger to axe 9,000 jobs amid oil rout The FT reports job cuts at Schlumberger following the fall in oil prices and cuts in spending by energy groups. The company says the job cuts are to “better align with anticipated activity levels for 2015”. The FT says the cuts are the largest so far announced by an oil services company following the oil price fall that began in June 2014.

OPEC claims first blood in oil with US frackers The Telegraph reports the latest OPEC market report which says producers outside the group will pump an additional 1.28m barrels per day in 2015, a downward revision of 800,000 on its previous estimate. The paper says OPEC is betting that by pushing prices lower it will force drilling rigs to shutdown in North America, where the growth in output is partly blamed for causing a global oversupply.

Paul Leinster to retire from the Environment Agency ENDS reports that the EA’s chief executive is stepping down after six years at its head and 17 years as a senior director. Work to recruit a replacement will start soon.

14th January 2015

Pictures and quotes from lobby of MPs on the Infrastructure Bill and fracking access

Beki Adams reflects on her lobby meeting with MP Tim Loughton

MPs hear doubts about government shale policy and large-scale UK fracking Our report

Head of shale gas task force calls for government openness on fracking Our report

MPs quiz Environment Agency on fracking regulation Our report

Parliament’s fracking examination must be inclusive and impartial Paul Mobbs, writing in The Ecologist magazine, criticises the Environmental Audit Committee which discussing the risks of fracking today for an industry and establishment bias in its choice of witnesses. The article says select committees exist to hold the executive to account and represent the public interest. The EAC is likely to be the last public body to hold such an inquiry before 40% of Britain is licensed for petroleum exploration and development. But Paul Mobbs says community groups have been excluded from the witness list and he believes the committee may “not be intent upon a full and unbiased exploration of the issues surrounding unconventional oil and gas development”.

Bid to block fracking is dismissed The Telegraph and Argus reports Bradford Council’s executive has blocked calls for a ban on fracking. A petition called on the council to ban fracking on its land and to discourage private developers from undertaking it. But the executive heard that a blanket ban could leave the council open to legal challenge.

Wrexham drilling will go ahead pledges IGas The Daily Post reports IGas has not dropped plans to drill at Borras near Wrexham, despite removing CCTV and security patrols from farmland around the site. Campaigners had hoped this was a sign that drilling would be abandoned but IGas said it always planned to remove security at some point.

Study finds new toxic contaminants in oil and gas wastewater Click Green reports the discovery of high levels ammonium and iodide in wastewater discharged or spilled into streams and rivers from oil and gas operations. A study from Duke University, appearing in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, found contamination was as high in waste from conventional oil and gas wells as those which had been fracked. The authors said current brine treatment processes in Pennsylvania were insufficient to remove the contaminates, which can promote the formation of by-products which are toxic to wildlife and people.

Drillers say Obama plan to plug methane leaks imperils boom Bloomberg reports on proposed rules by the US Environmental Protection Agency to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas equipment. The rules are part of a target by the Obama administration to cut by 45% by 2025. But the oil and gas industry has warned this could choke the US energy renaissance fuelled by hydraulic fracturing. Senator James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, tells Bloomberg: “This EPA mandate from the Obama administration will not only increase the cost to do business in America, but it will ultimately limit our nation’s ability to become fully energy independent”.

Anti-fracking protestors’ fears over involvement of US firm The Gazette and Herald and Malton and Pickering Mercury report a protest by Frack Free Ryedale and Frack Free York outside the entrance to Third Energy’s generating station in North Yorkshire. They called on the company to halt talks with the US oil service company, Halliburton, over its proposed fracking site at Kirby Misperton. Halliburton was fined $1.1bn for its part in the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.

The Gazette and Herald also reports a protest by the groups outside the Environment Agency office in York after discovering that Third Energy was meeting to discuss hydraulic fracturing products. Chris Redston, of Frack Free Ryedale, said that the group was particularly concerned about the chemicals which could be used in the process. He said: “Just because a chemical can be found in your home does not mean it is safe to human health. Most people are happy to keep cleaning products under their sink, but would not be happy pouring them into their kettle.

13th January 2015

The government announces it plans to remove the deep-level access clause for fracking in Scotland from the Infrastructure Bill. This and other headlines from the committee hearing – our reports from morning  and afternoon

Government minister refuses to publish in full redacted Defra report on fracking impacts Our report

Public must not be short-changed by fracking. The Local Government Association says payment of all community and benefits for fracking should not be voluntary as the Infrastructure Bill currently proposes but mandatory and enforceable by law. The LGA also says local communities must be able to decide whether or not to host fracking through their local council and the planning system.

Businesses rally to back shale The Fleetwood Weekly News reports more than 30 business leaders took part in a supporters’ rally in Blackpool to urge Lancashire County Council to approve Cuadrilla’s planning applications. The members of the pro-fracking North West Energy Task Force said backing shale gas would create skilled jobs and boost the local economy.

Doyle “out of touch” on fracking The Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter reports criticism by anti-fracking campaigners of local Labour MP Gemma Doyle for not voting against the second reading of the Infrastructure Bill. Anti-fracking campaigner Kieran Broadbelt said: “She states on her website that her ‘number one priority is West Dunbartonshire’ yet her non-action shows she cares little about the potential environmental and social repercussions associated with fracking”.

12th January 2015

MPs urged to demand publication of unredacted government report on impacts of fracking Our article

SNP must take a stand on fracking Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, writing in The Scotsman, says the SNP will have to come off the fence in the next few months and either decisively stop the unconventional gas industry north of the Border or admit that they are happy to let big companies like INEOS drill and frack significant parts of Scotland.

Fracking policy and repressive regimes Charles Coleman in a letter to the Wall Street Journal says Liberals should support fracking because it undermines repressive regimes, such as Russia, Venezuela and Iran.

Shale debt matters most to stock investors as oil plunges Bloomberg reports that the worst US performing oil producers owe about 5.7 times more than they earn. This compares with 1.7 times for companies that have taken less of a hit. Steven Rees, of JPMorgan Private Bank, tells Bloomberg: “With oil prices below $50 and approaching $40, we’re in survivor mode. The companies with the higher degrees of leverage have underperformed, and you don’t want to own those because there’s a fair amount of uncertainty as to whether they can repay that debt.”

Sonatrach of Algeria to invest $70bn in shale gas over 20 years Arab News reports the firm plans to press ahead with shale gas exploitation in the southern desert, despite huge public opposition from the In Salah area of the central Sahara where a successful test was announced last month. Sonatrach hopes to produce some 20 billion cubic meters (700 billion cubic feet) of shale gas per year from 200 drill sites.

11th January 2015

Infrastructure bill is a threat to the rights of the British public In a letter to The Guardian, Canon Andrea Titterington says the Infrastructure Bill if passed would make the recovery of oil and gas a legal objective and give companies the right to drill under and abandon any substance under any land, public or private. She says the bill would also allow: any public land can be transferred to the government’s Homes and Communities Agency for private house building with all access rights removed; major projects to be decided by government rather than councils; and the extermination of species deemed non-native (such as barn owls and red kits).

Protesters hold ‘solidarity day’ at Rathlin Energy site The Hull Daily Mail reports dozens of anti-fracking protesters gathered at Rathlin’s drilling site at Crawberry Hill near Walkington to join a “day of solidarity”. Documentary film-maker, Nina Taylor, posting on Facebook estimated 250-300 people. The campaigners have occupied a site nearby for eight months. East Riding Council gave the group 35 days to remove caravans, tents and wooden structures from the site in December. The deadline expired last Tuesday.

Three years since first village meeting about drilling in Balcombe Campaigners opposed to Cuadrilla’s exploratory oil well in Balcombe, West Sussex, post on Facebook to mark three years since residents first heard about the company’s plans for the village. At a public meeting, the campaigners say “Cuadrilla discovered that English audiences were not as credulous as they had casually assumed we would be. The next day we were on page 3 of the Guardian and the word #‎Fracking began entering wider British consciousness”.

IGas provides steam to sluggish shale exploration Oil and Gas Insight (produced by Business Monitor) says IGas plans for two multi-well fracking sites in 2015 puts it in a leading position in the nascent shale industry in the UK.

At least one major oil company will turn its back on fossil fuels, says scientist Jeremy Leggett tells The Guardian: “One of the oil companies will break ranks and this time it is going to stick,” he said. “The industry is facing plunging commodity prices and soaring costs at risky projects in the Arctic, deepwater Brazil and elsewhere. Oil companies are also realising it is no long morally defensible to ignore the consequences of climate change.”

Idea of gas terminal off east coast rankles fracking foes ABC News reports environmentalists, fishing groups and some elected officials say for a deep-water port off New York and New Jersey to import gas into the area during times of peak demand is a dangerous, unnecessary project. Many of the 1,000+ people at a public hearing last week described the project as a Trojan horse designed to be switched to an export facility for shale gas.

10th January 2015

Organic farmer calls on MP to back anti-fracking campaign The Shoreham Herald reports Beki Adam has arranged to meet East Worthing and Shoreham MP, Tim Loughton, in Westminster on January 14th to discuss fracking, currently being promoted in the Infrastructure Bill. She wants him to follow the example of two other Conservative MPs by asking the Prime Minister to release the full DEFRA report about the impact of shale gas on rural economies. She told the paper: “It is clearly not just me who has major concerns regarding fracking’s negative effect on the economy – especially our rural one. Businesses on the Downs such as mine, especially any which depend on rural tourism and the beauty of Sussex could not remain unaffected – let alone our water supplies.”

We must embrace this resource Derek Earl, replies to the Mid Sussex Times letter by Claire Robertson (7/1/15). He says: “Until we get an alternative to oil and gas (do not say wind and sun please) Cuadrilla and similar companies are the people to save the country billions in imports, and keep the likes of  your reader driving, cooking, heating their homes, and enjoying life”. He adds: “Providing sensible safeguards are in place, we must embrace this natural British resource”.

9th January 2015

Shale gas company and Dutch local council involved in legal spat Dutch News carries a report by the ANP news agency that Cuadrilla is threatening to take legal action against the town council of Boxtel for refusing to extend the lease on a site earmarked for drilling. ANP said Cuadrilla has sent the council an ultimatum and court documents were “ready to go”. Cuadrilla has leased the site on an industrial estate since 2011 but the council refuses to extend the contract saying the rental agreement has expired. According to the reports, Cuadrilla claims it has the right to extend the contract. There is a moratorium on drilling in the Netherlands, pending the outcome of further research.

Peel Holdings moves into fracking community consent business The Salford Star reports Peel Holdings, which rented land to IGas for exploratory drilling at Barton Moss, is promoting itself to the fracking industry as being able to help companies get community consent. Peel’s oil and gas division says it is able to help the industry “move quickly through the licensing and consenting process and secure a supply chain in the UK which will underpin its success”. The Star says Peel claims it has a “strong track record in site development and public consenting”.

Peaceful demonstration outside Environment Agency fracking meeting Frack Free York and Frack Free Ryedale report they held a demonstration outside the EA’s offices in York to publicise what they called a secret meeting between EA and Third Energy. FFY said the meeting was to discuss Halliburton’s fracking products which are proposed to be submitted as part of Third Energy’s application to frack at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire. Yorkshire Gazette and Herald report

North Notts anti-fracking petition handed into county council The Retford Times reports that a petition of nearly 2,000 signatures opposing fracking will be put before Nottinghamshire County Council’s meeting next week (15/1/15). It calls on the council not to agree to fracking for deep shale by IGas. The company has set up a liaison group and is preparing a planning application for exploratory drilling at Springs Road near Misson. A door-door survey of nine villages in north Nottinghamshire by campaigners found 70% of households were against fracking, the paper said.

Nick Clegg urges caution over fracking in Shropshire The Shropshire Star reports comments about fracking by Nick Clegg, on a visit to the area: “I think we have to proceed with real caution. I do not think it is sensible as a country to place fanatic importance on any form of energy”. He added: “As a country we have to try and wean ourselves off imported fossil fuels but I do not share the Conservatives’ view that somehow we can turn ourselves into Texas. It can play a part but we must be very mindful of the environment which is why Ed Davey has been leading the charge to place the most stringent guidelines on any fracking applications in the developed world.”

Horse Hill – the beginner’s guide Proactive Investors.co.uk reports on progress at the Horse Hill site near Horley, in Surrey.

8th January 2015

New study finds much of world’s fossil fuel reserves and even more of resources must stay buried to prevent damaging climate change Our report and links to other coverage.

Why leaving fossil fuels in the ground is good for everyone George Monbiot in The Guardian criticises the clause in the Infrastructure Bill would oblige governments to produce strategies for “maximising the economic recovery of UK petroleum”.

War of words erupts over fracking leaflet The Garstang Courier reports disagreements between local vicar, Rev Michael Roberts and Residents’ Action on Fylde Fracking over an anti-fracking leaflet. And informal decision by the Advertising Standards Authority found that the leaflet contained misleading information. The Rev Roberts says the group has been forced to withdraw the leaflet. But RAFF spokesman, Bob Dennett, said the group had run out of leaflets and had decided not to reprint before the ASA got involved.

Fylde anti-frackers’ anger at censored report The Blackpool Gazette reports that opponents of fracking in Fylde have written to their MP to protest about a DEFRA report on fracking which had 63 redactions in it before it was published. Most of the redactions appeared to be about the effect of fracking on house prices. Fylde MP, Mark Menzies, said: “I share some of the concerns local residents have over shale gas and have, of course, taken their request for a copy of the unredacted version of this document to the Secretary of State, Elizabeth Truss MP.”

Lancashire business leaders to local council: Give shale a chance A letter from the NW Energy Taskforce, funded by Cuadrilla and Centrica, urges Lancashire County Council to grant permission for Cuadrilla’s proposed exploratory gas well sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood. The group said more than 100 business leaders believe shale gas will create thousands of jobs and improve local wages through access to a £33bn supply chain. NW Energy Task Force quotes a poll by Johnston Press which found 57% of people in Lancashire want to see shale gas development in the Fylde Coast. BBC Report

US oil exports jump to record as shale production booms Bloomberg reports that US exported a record amount of crude oil in November. Shipments rose 34% to an average of 502,000 barrels a day in November, the highest since records began in 1920. The previous peak was 455,000 in 1957.

Osborne puts energy at heart of election campaign The FT says the chancellor will be mistaken if he believes the fall in the oil price will have a sizeable impact on utility bills. George Osborne tweeted that it was vital that the price falls was passed on to families at petrol pumps, through utility bills and air fares. But the FT says pump prices have been falling more slowly than international crude prices and utility prices are based on gas prices, most of which are not linked to the price of crude oil. The big six energy suppliers buy their gas 18-24 months in advance so even if gas prices fell the impact would not be quick.

UK lobbies EU for ‘light touch’ energy regulation ENDS reports that the UK and Czech Republic are arguing against EU rules to enforce member states’ climate goals. The UK wants countries to be allowed to make their own choices on measures and technologies, ENDS says.

US states rich in oil see greatest revenue volatility Reuters reports on a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts which shows that US states with large energy sectors are seeing wild swings from high to low revenues as oil prices move unexpectedly. Alaska’s revenues fluctuated within 34.4% above or below its overall growth trend. Wyoming was second, followed by North Dakota and Vermont.

7th January 2015

The Environmental Audit Committee publishes written evidences to its inquiry into the risks of fracking Our report on the submissions

Labour seeks ban on fracking near aquifers Labour’s Tom Greatrex submits an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill which seeks to prevent fracking in groundwater source protection zones. The development is welcomed by Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. Guardian report

Anti-Cuadrilla group’s fracking protest leaflet misleading, says watchdog The Independent and The Times report a decision by the Advertising Standards Authority that sections of a leaflet from Residents Action on Fylde Fracking misinterpreted scientific data around shale gas extraction and exaggerated the size and scale of planned fracking operations in Lancashire. In an informal decision, the ASA upheld five complaints in the leaflet Shale Gas The Facts, reportedly distributed in Lancashire last March and August. But the ASA found other statements, including those on burning gas flares and a lack of fracking-specific regulation were valid. Ken Wilkinson, who made the complaint alongside retired local vicar Michael Roberts, said he was “sick to death of all the nonsense around fracking” and “scientific drivel spouted” by anti-fracking campaigners. Bob Dennett, of Raff, defended the leaflet.

Defra’s fracking cover up Talk Fracking reports on a petition calling on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to publish in full a report on the impacts of shale gas on rural economies. The report was released last year in response to a Freedom of Information request but had 63 redactions in 13 pages.

Research update Fracking’s methane leakage to be focus of many studies this year, says Inside Climate News

Anti-fracking petition submitted to Bradford Council The Telegraph and Argus reports that a 339-name petition has been submitted to Bradford Council urging it not to allow fracking on its land. It will be considered at the council’s next executive meeting on January 13th.

Crawberry Hill anti-fracking protester arrested The BBC reports one man is in custody following the arrest of an anti-fracking campaign at Rathlin Energy’s gas exploration site at Walkington in East Yorkshire.

We must resist fracking Claire Robertson tells the Mid Sussex Times (in response to a letter by Malcolm Thomason, 12/12/14) the world must resist fracking and all other new fossil fuel extraction to avoid a global temperature rise exceeding 2 degrees C. She said “We must fight for a transition to a low carbon lifestyle powered by renewables. The technologies exist, and work. We must do this to protect the planet, and everybody’s, future”.

Fracking data sought by environmental groups in EPA lawsuit Bloomberg reports a coalition of nine advocacy groups has sued the US Environmental Protection Agency for public access to information on toxic chemicals released in fracking and other forms of oil and gas drilling. The coalition wants the EPA to require oil and gas companies to join other industries in reporting chemicals on the Toxic Release Inventory.

Fracking supporters in New York aren’t giving up Watchdog.org reports on a pro-fracking rally in Binghamton, on the border with Pennsylvania. The meeting was organised by Joint Land Owners Coalition of New York. Its executive director, Dan Fitzsimmons, says: “We’re going to try to get some federal intervention”.

Investigation launched into fracking site damage after gas leak claims The Australian broadcaster, ABC, reports on an investigation into damage to a valve at a fracking gas well in Western Australia after activists claimed dangerous levels of gas were leaking at the site. Video of a hand-held gas metre showed was activists said were likely to be high levels of methane. Safety inspectors went to the site but could not detect leaking gas. They did find damage to a valve which they said caused a “very minor leak” to the well. The Australian Daily Telegraph report

Eleven earthquakes recorded in less than 24 hours near birthplace of fracking The Guardian reports on a series of earthquakes in just over 24 hours, ranging from 1.6-3.6, to hit the town of Irving, west of Dallas. No major injuries or damage were reported. Until 2008 there was one reported earthquake in the Fort Worth Basin area. Since then, there have been more than 100 small quakes.

Is fracking facing a crisis? Guest post

6th January 2015

Opponents of drilling near Leith Hill in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are preparing for another round in their long-running fight with Europa Oil and Gas Our report

Witnesses named by inquiry into fracking risks Our report

Biggest oil rig drop since 2009 spells tough year ahead Bloomberg, quoting the oil services group Baker Hughes, says the US rig count fell by 93 in the three months to Boxing Day and lost another 17 last week. About 200 more will be idled over the next quarter, according to Moody’s Corp.

5th January 2015

Brent oil falls below $53 for first time in over five years The FT reports ICE February Brent dropped to a five-and-a-half year low. The US benchmark oil price – Nymex February West Texas – dropped to $50.04 a barrel, having earlier traded at $49.95, the first time since April 2009.

Fracking confirmed as cause of rare “felt” earthquake in Ohio Climate Connections reports on a new study that links the March 2014 earthquakes in Poland Township, Ohio, to fracking that activated a previously unknown fault. The website quotes research in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America which found the earthquakes coincided with fracking at oil and gas wells operated by Hilcorp Energy. Author Robert Skoumal said fracking “did not create a new fault, rather it activated one that we didn’t know about prior to the seismic activity”.

Climate change groups split on fossil fuel divestment The FT reports on divisions about fossil fuel divestment campaigns. Light Green Advisors, a New York asset management firms, rejects the idea that shaming an industry will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But Bill McKibben, the US activist, says engaging companies to change policy would not work with the fossil fuel industry.

Fracking Regs website launched Mike Hill launches Shale Gas Office with information on fracking regulations and what he thinks is needed.

FoE Northern Ireland says communities don’t want fracking The Director of Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland, James Orr, tells the Belfast Telegraph “The Frackers will not be made welcome in any community in Northern Ireland. What happened in Fermanagh was not just an environmental campaign – it was an exercise in democratic renewal. The community said no, we’re not having it. We’re seeing a lot of these communities, through resisting unsustainable development, are beginning to look at more sustainable options”.

4th January 2015

Methane plume over western US illustrates climate cost of gas leaks The Guardian website carries an article from the Washington Post on an earlier satellite study that reveals a methane hot spot from leaking gas wells in New Mexico.

After the oil price fall, is natural gas next? Nick Butler’s FT blog predicts a worldwide decline in gas prices in 2015. His reasons include: 1. gas supply contracts in Europe are tied to the oil price; 2. there are signs that Japan is ready to gradually start reintroducing nuclear power, which would undermine gas prices in Asia; 3. gas supply is strong and demand is fragile.

MP Charles Hendry: UK urgently needs more gas storage facilities The former energy minister tells The Telegraph lower oil and gas prices will make investment in the North Sea and UK and overseas shale gas harder to find. “We need to continue to invest in our domestic energy sources, like nuclear and renewables, and to look again at our gas storage”, Hendry says. UK gas storage has always been lower than other countries, just over two weeks, compared with up to 120 days in France and Germany.

Campaigners lobby Newark MP in bid to protect Nottinghamshire from fracking The Nottingham Post reports members of Frack Free Nottinghamshire protested outside the office of Robert Jenrick, a member of the committee scrutinising the Infrastructure Bill. Nigel Lee, of FFN, said “”This bill will give the Government the power to allow fracking companies to drill under people’s homes without their permission and take out whatever substances they find underneath.

2nd January 2015

Is Prince William secretly opposed to fracking? The Sebastian Shakespeare column in MailOnline describes an awkward silence when Simon Toole, head of oil and gas licensing at DECC, collected his CBE from Prince William and said his work involved fracking.

Robert Jenrick urged to make clear his stance on fracking The Newark Advertiser reports Frack Free Notts is asking the Newark MP, Robert Jenrick, a member of the committee looking at the Infrastructure Bill, to make clear his stance on fracking. Mr Jenrick said he supports fracking because it involves a natural resource and could create jobs. But he added: “As a member of the committee, it is my job to reassure people who are worried about fracking and to put those views forward in the committee meetings.”

Planning is an enduring concern, says MP Nick Herbert In an opinion piece in the West Sussex County Times, the Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert says drilling must be carefully regulated and in appropriate locations. He opposed Celtique Energie’s application to drill near Wisborough Green in his constituency.

Fracking in the UK: what to expect in 2015 Richard Heasman, writing in the Ecologist, says falls in oil and gas prices could mean the UK fracking industry never gets off the ground, despite government support for shale. The article points to increasing community opposition to fracking proposals, as well as some moves to disinvest in fossil fuels.

January 1st 2015

Ryedale police prepare to tackle anti-fracking protesters The Gazette Herald reports North Yorkshire Police has been planning for the arrival of campaigners following the announcement by Third Energy that it is applying for permission to frack at Kirby Misperton. Inspector Andy Everitt tells the paper he will be meeting colleagues in Humberside Police who are responsible for patrolling Rathlin’s Crawberry Hill drilling site. “It is the intention of North Yorkshire Police to allow people to express their views on this issue and we will of course uphold the rights of all persons to protest provided they remain inside the law”, he said.

Leitrim protesters say fracking could damage tourism The BBC reports from County Leitrim on local reaction to the prospect of fracking in Ireland.

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