Guest Post: Ex-oil man explains why he reported anti-fracking leaflets

Former oil engineer, Ken Wilkinson, has made several complaints about anti-fracking material to the advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority. In this Guest Post, he describes what motivates his action.

Ken Wilkinson photographed while paragliding

On 3rd June, the Advertising Standards Authority announced that Frack Free Alliance (FFA) had withdrawn their advertising in the Farmers Guardian and the Daily Farmer. I, along with Rev Michael Roberts had challenged the factual basis of the advert. FFA did not attempt to defend their statements about poisoned land, leaking wells, unsaleable produce etc etc.

This is the third time this has happened. I took a complaint against Frack Free Somerset, on 13 separate points. Michael Roberts and I made a complaint against Resident Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF) last year, on a similar number. These included pictures of flares, and open storage pits, claims of no regulation, well leaks, health impacts etc. They all withdrew and had to promise to remove the adverts, and not present them again. This was done to avoid an ASA council judgement on the matter.

Both of us are appalled at the way false scientific data is being presented as a way of stopping fracking. That is why I took on Breast Cancer UK and had them withdraw their material, twice. It simply was appallingly bad science, in the UK context.

I think both of us would describe ourselves as anti bullshit, rather than pro fracking. If people wish to oppose fracking on climate change grounds then they should argue on that premise, not introduce false information trying to prove it is risky when it is not. The data from the US strongly indicates it has been a great economic boost to the US, and has cut coal usage, the elephant in the room on climate change, pollution,  and CO2 emissions.

It is also very poor that Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are not able to stand up to some of the ideas that appear in so many anti frack media. The above groups [mentioned in paragraphs 1-4] had months to get technical assistance, but the withdrawal indicates that they know the information is false, but are happy that it is used as a campaigning tool.


  • Following graduation as an engineer from Manchester University, I worked in the Far East in the mid 70s, for 2 years for Schlumberger, doing open and cased hole logging. I left as a senior field engineer. In the 80s I worked for Halliburton Wireline (Welex) as a field engineer, eventually becoming the most senior engineer in my district, dealing with well problems, and oil company engineers. I then became a Physics teacher and recently retired. Michael Roberts is an Oxford University geology graduate with mining experience. He then became a vicar, and has also recently retired. Neither of us have any financial or other interest in any of the oil/gas companies.

15 replies »

  1. If the scrutiny is deceitful it is without merit, therefore if there is deceitful scrutiny of wind it is unlikely that wind would be shut down. However the Government has suggested that local communities should be allowed to veto nearby onshore wind installations. The Government does not propose to allow local communities to veto nearby onshore oil and gas extraction. In fact the Government is attempting to remove the right of local communities to be consulted on fracking (meaning the end to end processes of drilling, well completion and waste treatment). If the right to be consulted about onshore wind installations was removed there would be a strong reaction. It is likely that removing the right to be consulted about onshore oil and gas extraction is illegal. In any event there will be a strong reaction to the removal of the right to be consulted about fracking which will hinder the progress of oil and gas extraction.

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