Our digest of August’s headlines about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas developments – and opposition to them – in the UK and around the world.
- Government announces 14th round oil and gas licences
- Anti-fracking groups gear up to fight potential drilling
- Ministers reveal plans to override councils on fracking applications
- No permission needed for seismic monitoring boreholes under government plans
- Companies win planning decisions in North Yorkshire and Surrey but loses in Rhondda Cynan Taff
- Oil price falls and rises
- Lancashire campaigners launch fundraising bid to fight Cuadrilla appeals
- Labour leader candidates split on fracking
- Consultations underway on Third Energy and IGas plans
- Research finds opposition to fracking rises as people know more about it
- Rathlin pulls out of East Yorkshire site over drilling costs
- Celtique Energie ordered to pay costs over abandoned appeal
31st August 2015
September Drilling Diary Our summary of meetings, decisions, consultation deadlines and key dates on fracking, onshore oil and gas and the campaign against it.
Tony Carruthers resigns Cuadrilla directorships Companies House lists Tony Carruthers, commercial director of Cuadrilla Resources, as resigning as a director from 9 companies: Cuadrilla Resources Ltd, Cuadrilla Weald Ltd, Cuadrilla Bowland Ltd, Cuadrilla West Services Ltd, Cuadrilla Hungary Ltd, Cuadrilla Balcombe Ltd, Cuadrilla Elswick Ltd, Cuadrilla Elswick (No2.) Ltd, and Cuadrilla Resources Holdings Ltd. He previously resigned from Elswick Power Ltd (3/2/14), Elswick Energy Ltd (13/6/13) and Bowland Resources Ltd (13/6/13). Link to DrillOrDrop report of tony Carruthers presentation to All Party Parliamentary Group on Unconventional Gas and Oil.
Licence surrender Department of Energy and Climate Change announces that GP Energy surrendered its PEDL 159 licence today. The licence covers the Canonbie area. Background information from Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.
Oil surges 25% in three trading sessions The FT reports oil prices rose more than 25% in three trading sessions, with the latest boost coming from data on US production and vague hints of a change of thinking inside the Opec producers’ cartel. In London Brent, the international marker, climbed $4.10 a barrel to settle at $54.15.
30th August 2015
More east Surrey countryside could be licensed for fracking The Surrey Mirror reports on licence blocks in the county that are out for consultation following assessment under the Habitat Regulations. The paper says east Surrey includes SSSI and nature reserves, along with a site at Sugham Farm, licensed to Cuadrilla. Green county councillor, Jonathan Essex, tells the paper the focus on unconventional extraction threats to “industrialise” the county.
Concerns raised over potential fracking site in north Lincolnshire The Scunthorpe Telegraph reports on a meeting organised by Frack Free Kirton, about Egdon Resources’ site at Laughton. Local people are concerned fracking could take place there in future but the company says it has no plans to frack there. Mark Abbott, Egdon’s managing director, tells the paper: “The Laughton exploration well will clearly target conventional oil and gas”. Frack Free Kirton meets in Lindsey every Tuesday at 7pm in the town hall.
The government’s efforts to kill off the solar industry and lead us to fracking hell Professor Sue Roaf, writing in The Guardian, criticises government plans to cut solar tariffs. “Solar power is citizen power, so – if you do not want a toxic nuclear future or degraded fracked landscapes and lives – keep building those solar roofs, because each single one is a footstep to a cleaner, safer, freer energy future”, she says. MEP Jean Lambert, also writing to the paper, says fracking will not reduce bills, deliver energy security or create a significant number of jobs.
29th August 2015
Vale of Belvoir licences is fracking bad news for Grantham says councillor Grantham Matters reports that licences to explore the potential for fracking 100km around the Vale of Belvoir could have far-reaching consequences, according to Labour Lincolnshire county Councillor, Charmaine Morgan. She says “I am extremely concerned at the potential impact of the fracking exploration plans proposed. The Government is gambling with our future in its bid to resolve our energy crisis.
Greens want to nationalise Grangemouth The Falkirk Herald reports that the Scottish Green Party has called for Grangemouth’s petrochemical industry to be taken into public ownership. Kirsten Robb, the Green’s candidate for Central Scotland, claimed new research commissioned by the Greens shows how a planned transition from fossil fuels to green energy could create 200,000 jobs across Scotland and how the nationalisation of Grangemouth would guarantee security for the jobs of workers currently employed at privately owned site.
28th August 2015
Fracking plans for Wyre villages slammed by county councillor Green Party councillor, Gina Dowding, tells the Lancashire Evening Post “no-one wants it [fracking] here and the government aren’t listening. Cockerham, Forton and Dolphinholme were included in licences due to be issued under the 14th round. Cllr Dowding says the government should be looking for “better options” in its search for renewable energy sources.
The shale gas revolution will be good for all of Britain – if we embrace it now Tom Crotty, a director of INEOS, tells City Am that streamlining of planning permission for fracking and the announcement of new exploration licences is “fantastic news” for INEOS and the UK. But he acknowledges the shale industry has “much to do to win the public’s confidence”. He adds: “Shale gas will be good for business, good for the economy and good for the people of Britain.”
Oil extends short-covering frenzy to second day, topping $50 Reuters reports that oil prices returned to $50 barrel as violence in Yemen, a storm in the Gulf and refinery outages helped to extend the biggest two-day price rally in six years.
Ecotricity to build new gas from grass generator in Somerset The Western Morning News reports that renewable energy producer, Ecotricity, has announced it is to develop a third gas from grass generator. The new site in Somerset will generate enough gas to power 2,500 homes it says. The first development, in Gloucestershire, will supply almost 6,000 homes. A second, announced last week in Hampshire, will supply 5,000.
EPA urged by nearly 100,000 Americans to redo highly controversial fracking study EcoWatch reports that nearly 100,000 comments have been submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency on its fracking study as the consultation period ends today. Food & Water Watch, Environmental Action and Breast Cancer Action are among groups asking the EPA to redo the study, with a higher level of scrutiny and oversight.
Tory MP “sceptical” about prospect of fracking being carried out in town The Bolton News reports comments by Conservative MP Chris Green that he would be sceptical about fracking in Bolton. He told a meeting on Thursday that fracking had a “place in the energy mix” but said it was the locations that were of concern to him. Labour-controlled Bolton Council has voted to oppose applications in the town and has called on Mr Green to clarify his stance on the issue.
Celtic princesses against fracking Frack Free East Yorkshire supporters meet local residents from Driffield and the Wolds at Wetwang to discuss whether the warrior princess, of the Wetwang chariot burial, could be a figurehead in the campaign against Cuadrilla’s new licence area (SE95) in the area.
27th August 2015
UK indigenous energy production up in latest data The Government’s monthly energy statistics show a record increase in indigenous energy production between April and June 2015, with oil up 12.3% and gas up 10.3%. Wind generation by major power producers rose 51%, while overall renewables were up 58%. Details
Final day for Misson comments Deadline for comments on IGas application to drill 12 groundwater monitoring boreholes at its proposed fracking site at Mission, in Bassetlaw, North Nottinghamshire.
Lammy and Khan commit to divestment if elected as London mayor Labour MPs David Lammy and Sadiq Khan tell The Guardian they will pull out City Hall’s £4.8bn pension fund from oil, coal and gas companies if they are elected as London mayor next May. The current mayor, Boris Johnson, described divestment as “a sudden cliff edge” and argued the UK needed to push ahead with fracking.
Government steps in on fracking Peter Bill in PlanningResource.co.uk argues that the government’s threat to determine fracking applications gives councils a good excuse to pass the buck (subscription only)
Fracking: Are we powerless to energy giants? Nick Charity, writing in the Derbyshire Times, reviews local opinion of fracking in Derbyshire, earmarked for drilling in the 14th licence round.
The Big Issue: could fracking for gas pose a danger in North Staffordshire? The Stoke Sentinel looks at the implications of and reaction to oil and gas licences for Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle.
26th August 2015
Who’s drilling where? Our summer 2015 update of applications, permits, companies and consultations
Green groups threaten to sue US watchdog over fracking quakes The FT reports that green groups are preparing a lawsuit against the US Environmental Protection Agency for not curbing the disposal of waste water by oil companies. They allege the regulator has failed in its duty to tackle a surge of earthquakes that they blame on the shale industry.
US environmental agency advising Australia on impact of fracking on water The Guardian reports that the US Environmental Protection Agency has given Australia’s Department of the Environment details of studies about the impact of fracking on water supplies.
Bolton council ‘to oppose fracking in the Borough’ The Bolton News reports that Cliff Morris, new leader of Bolton council, told a full meeting of the authority that any attempts to carry out fracking in the borough would be opposed.
Fracking at Horse Hill is “off the table” for now Proactive Investors reports comments by Solo Oil’s chief executive, Neil Ritson, about the Horse Hill well near Gatwick: “For the time being it [fracking] is off the table. But he acknowledged that fracking could be a way of improving oil recoveries but it is not known whether the process would be applicable to Horse Hill, either technically and/or politically.
11bn barrels of oil in Horse Hill area, report predicts UK Oil & Gas announces an independent assessment by Schlumberger estimated 10.993 billion barrels of oil in place in the 55 square miles of PEDL137 and 246, which includes the Horse Hill well. UKOG said it would integrate the findings into the planned flow test of Horse Hill-1 well expected later this year.
Schlumberger to buy Cameron International in $14.3bn deal The FT reports Schlumberger, the world’s largest oil services group, has agreed to buy energy equipment manufacturer, Cameron International. The acquisition will give Schlumberger, which specialises in “down hole” work in oil and gas wells, a range of new technologies to use on the surface on and offshore.
IGas close to Misson fracking application In a statement to its AGM, IGas says of its shale development plan: “In the near term, we are moving ahead with our planning application for two wells at the Springs Road site in the East Midlands. Across the Pennines, in the North West, we are undertaking a 3D seismic survey that will give us essential data to further inform near term site selection.”
New IGas financial officer IGas announces chartered accountant, Julian Tedder, will become Chief Financial Officer and a board director from 28th September. He was most recently at Tullow Oil.
Is fracking worth the risk? David Sorsby, writing in the South Yorkshire Times, says “The only full-scale fracking attempt in the UK was in Lancashire, where it caused two earthquakes and blew out the wellhead, forcing the operators to close it down”. He adds: “After decisions to reject fracking in Lancashire by Local Authorities, planning applications are likely to be decided by the Government. Democracy in action, anyone?”
Fracking firms to start gas hunt across Lincolnshire The East Lindsey Target collects reaction to the government’s announcement that 12 companies have been given licences to drill between East Kirby and Spilsby.
Fracking ‘sacrifice zone’ claim rejected Lorraine Allanson, of Friends of Ryedale Gas Exploration, tells The Gazette Herald licences announced last week by the government for the Ryedale area could be used for conventional gas exploration. “For Frack Free Ryedale to claim that Yorkshire has been designated as a ‘sacrifice zone’ by the Government is misleading, unsupported scaremongering”, she says.
A void of knowledge on fracking Ian Wingfield tells the Yorkshire Post communities will find it hard to control fracking developments because the promoters are private companies motivated by profit, government is reluctant to hinder fracking in any way and there is little or no body of knowledge of fracking in the UK. “When works proceed and notwithstanding imposed planning conditions, companies will proceed safe in the knowledge they will largely do things their way, paying lip service to community liaison and little concern for any adverse impactions”, he says.
25TH August 2015
No conditions proposed on 59 drilling licences near top wildlife sites Our report on proposals on Oil and Gas Authority conditions for second phase drilling licences
Official fracking maps reveal potential impact zone The Northern Echo reports that 700,000 people live within a 10km potential zone of impact of proposed fracking sites in North Yorkshire and Teesside. The paper says the zones include Middlesbrough, Yarm, much of Ryedale, and the east coast from Scarborough to Whitby and Saltburn to north of Hartlepool.
Planning application postponed for Cluff UCG project Cluff Natural Resources announces work on a planning application for the Kincardine underground coal gasification project is likely to be postponed “until after such time as the political situation is more certain”. The company says preparatory work including site selection studies, modelling and design work are “well underway.”
Delay to Woodburn Forest drilling plans InfraStrata announces delays to its plan to start drilling its Woodburn Forest well, near Carrickfergus in County Antrim. The company said all regulatory approvals and permits were in place but partner Larne Oil and Gas Ltd has pulled out and now InfraStrata needs to find £2.8m to drill the well. Opponents say the site – 400m from a drinking water reservoir and nature reserve – is ”highly inappropriate”.
Hundreds sign petition calling for fracking ban in north Wales The Daily Post reports more than 600 people have signed a petition calling for an extension of the fracking moratorium to cover underground coal gasification. Cluff Natural Resources was granted a conditional licence from the Coal Authority in 2013 for UCG on the Dee.
Fracking threat hangs over tourist spots and villages near Frome following licence deal The Frome Standard reports that the threat of fracking hangs over villages near Frome and Longleat House for the first time. Mark Lumley, of Gas Field Free Mendip, tells the paper “large swathes of Somerset and Wiltshire, including a large area between Frome, Warminster, and Westbury may shortly be up for grabs to the fracking industry.”
Seismic tests near Frodsham and Helsby to find out area is suitable for fracking The Chester Chronicle reports seismic testing will be carried out by Tesla Enterprises Ltd for IGas over the next six weeks to see if shale gas is present under Frodsham and Helsby. Local anti-fracking campaigners tell the paper groups are already working together and “the resistance is immense”.
Fracking would mean power for next 50 years Colin Clark, writing in the Derby Evening Telegraph, says if 10% of UK shale gas reserves were tapped the nation wold be powered for 50 years. “Unfortunately”, he says, “a few affluent landowners who make fortunes from renting their land for useless wind-farms are vehemently opposed, since they continue to benefit if fracking is blocked.
Fracking: Cheshire East Council leader accused of U-turn The BBC reports that the Conservative leader of Cheshire East Council, Michael Jones, as saying he would back plans to drill for shale gas if the process is found to be safe. Labour’s Sam Corcoran accused Mr Jones of a U-turn, going back on assurances he gave last year.
Anti-fracking campaigner hits back after minister visit Peter Roberts tells the Warrington Guardian that Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, was uninformed on the subject of fracking, when she visited IGas’s coal bed methane project at Doe Green. “She didn’t really understand what was happening”, he said. “I’m fed up of people coming to visit Doe Green. They see it as a centre of excellence and bring people on jollies but they’re not getting what they wanted or making money.”
Notts Wildlife Trust “worried” about Government fracking plan take over Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust tells the Retford Times it is concerned about Government plans to intervene in local planning decisions on fracking. It is wrong to treat these decisions differently, it says. They should be considered “properly and rigorously”.
Local area to remain free from fracking for now despite new licences for Somerset and Wiltshire The Somerset Guardian reports that previous licences in the Somerset coalfield area have not been renewed under the 14th round. 11 of the 132 blocks are in or adjacent to Somerset and include licences east of Frome and along the coast from Clevedon to Dunster.
24th August 2015
Oil slides to 6-year low as commodities tumble The FT reports that oil hit a fresh 6 ½ hear low today over concerns about China’s growth. Brent – the international oil benchmark, dropped 2.6% to a low of $44.20 a barrel in early trading, the lowest since March 2009. The US oil benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, traded below $40 a barrel for a second day. Energy Voice and Reuters reports
Fracking set to be a reality in Staffordshire after new drill sites are revealed The Burton Mail reports on new oil and gas licences in Staffordshire.
Concerns that fracking could impact across Stroud district after new licence awarded to explore for oil and gas in Sharpness Stroud News reports that fracking could take place in Sharpness – one of the 132 oil and gas exploration licenses being consulted on. Cllr Paul Denney, of Stroud District Council, says alarm bells are ringing already.
Aftermath of fracking A writer to the Letters’ Page of The Sheffield Star says the Green Belt is under bombardment from all sides, including fracking. The area is being spoiled for local residents and wildlife and fracking is being forced on people, whether they like it or not.
23rd August 2015
Fracking could be heading to West Country The Western Morning News reports that seven oil and gas licence blocks in North Somerset are now out for consultation.
UK determined to realize its fracking dreams Oil Price reports on the 27 new oil and gas exploration licences. It says the government’s enthusiasm for fracking is undoubtedly “driven by the eye-watering shale oil and gas reserves estimated to be contained in British rocks”.
Water is unsafe even before fracking begins Austen Lynch, in the Letters’ Page of The Guardian, says 30,000 households are boiling water for a third week in part of Lancashire because pipes have become contaminated by bacteria. “That this is in the heartland of an area targeted by Cuadrilla for intensive shale gas extraction should give pause for serious thought about the scale of operation that would be needed in the event of water contaminants introduced by fracking”, the writer says.
“We must put people first, not fracking” Green Party councillor, Darren Bisby-Boyd, tells the Peterborough Evening Telegraph the recent licence announcement is evidence that the government is prioritising corporations rather than people. “The proposals would see the government endanger our environment and disregard the people who would be affected”, he says.
22nd August 2015
Fracking: who’s who in the race to strike it rich in the UK The Guardian says Jim Ratcliffe, of Ineos, and Cuadrilla’s Francis Egan are the closest equivalents of the US wildcatters who made fortunes from fracking. But it says it is too soon to predict who will make money from the industry in the UK, if it ever gets off the ground.
Councils vent anger over fracking threat The Times reports local councils are on a collision course with the government over the awarding of new fracking licences. The paper says “Councillors across England expressed fury at government plans to fast-track approval for dozens of new fracking projects in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and at threats to overrule councils if they drag their heels on planning decisions.” It quotes Lancashire County Councillor, Gina Dowding, as saying it was “extremely shocking” that the government felt it could override local democracy.
Yorkshire Post letters Special edition of letters for and against fracking inn North Yorkshire
Campaigners say they will use ‘any means’ to prevent fracking in the Forest of Dean The Gloucester Citizen reports that Frack Off Our Forest will use any means necessary to stop fracking or unconventional gas and oil exploration in the Forest of Dean.
Fast-tracking policy no threat to democracy Paul Morgan of North Lincolnshire, writing to the Letters’ Page of the Yorkshire Post defends the Government’s guidance on fast-tracking fracking applications. The Government has a commitment to fracking and a clear democratic mandate to follow this through, he says.
21st August 2015
Preston New Road Action Group launches UK-wide fundraising bid to fight Cuadrilla’s fracking appeals Our report
Fracking companies hit back at ‘scaremongering’ over South Yorkshire plans The Sheffield Star reports on reaction to the licensing of large areas of South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire to Cuadrilla, Ineos and IGas. Opponents have warned that fracking will hit houses prices and tourism and increase noise and traffic congestion. Cuadrilla’s Francis Egan said potential exploration in Yorkshire would bring new jobs and economic growth. “We have a responsibility to ensure people understand the facts and are not misled by harmful scaremongering”, he said.
As the British Government pushes fracking, locals push back Think Progress reports on pressure for and against shale development.
Paper device tracks fracking pollution Chemistry World reports US scientists have developed a sensor to detect bromide ions in water that could be used to check if fracking fluids have seeped into water supplies. Fracking waste water contains high concentrations of bromide, as well as chloride and iodide ions.
Firm planning fracking in the Vale of Belvoir offered another licence The Grantham Journal reports that Hutton Energy has been offered an exploration licence for land around Melton, in addition to its existing licences in the Vale of Belvoir.
Fracking licence approved for Barnsley The Barnsley Chronicle reports that a “huge swathe of Barnsley” has been offered as a fracking licence to Cuadrilla. The area of the Gainsborough Trough includes Darfield, Great Houghton, Grimethorpe, Thurnscoe, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Goldthorpe, Wath, West Melton, Brampton and Mexborough.
Views sought on controversial fracking proposals The Northern Echo reports that North Yorkshire County Council has begun an eight-week consultation on Third Energy’s plans for fracking at Kirby Misperton in Ryedale. The consultation concludes on 14th October and a decision is expected in November.
Friends of the Earth CEO Craig Bennett: ‘Now is the time to listen to ordinary people again’ Craig Bennett tells The Guardian it’s open war with the Cameron government and he wants to lead the attack from the front. “We have to go back to the trenches, use the older tactics. It’s back to the future. This government is completely out of touch. Politicians talking to politicians do not understand what is going on. They have declared war on renewables [such as wind and solar power] but everyone supports them. They have backed fracking but no one wants it. We have people on our side everywhere.”
The public is scared of fracking. Trying to force it on them is a huge mistake Geoffrey Lean, writing in The Telegraph, says the licence award for oil and gas exploration is more likely to impede fracking than spur it on. He says doubling the area where fracking can be practice will surely lead to the establishment of many more anti-fracking groups. Opposition is, he says, a “deadly combination of crusties and colonels, committed green activists and local residents. This synergistic alliance almost always wins the environmental battles it fights”.
We mustn’t drag our feet over fracking decisions David Morris, Conservative MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, writing in The Visitor, supported government announcements on its intention to fast-track fracking planning applications. “There are a lot of scaremongering stories relating to fracking and pressure from lobbying groups, so its understandable councillors are under a lot of pressure but they must not allow this to cloud their judgement and take proper advice from their officers who are well versed in planning law”, he said.
20th August 2015
Gas production and water reinjection plans approved in North York Moors National Park to dismay of campaigners Our report
Will fracking be allowed in hundreds of SSSIs, and around several protected areas and beauty spots? Greenpeace Energy Desk says there are 53 SSSIs in the 27 awarded exploration blocks and 260 in those out for consultation. They cover large areas of the North York Moors and Salisbury Plain and overlap significantly with blocks in the second tranche currently out for consultation. 27 of these blocks are also covered or partly covered by areas of outstanding natural beauty.
Fylde anti-frackers’ fury at new shale licences The Blackpool Gazette reports that anti-fracking campaigners have vowed to stand together to opposed expansion of the shale gas industry across the north of England. Bob Dennett, of Frack Free Lancashire, said: “The fact that the vast majority of the licenses being issued are based in the north shows the governments contempt for our communities. Obviously they have listened to Tory Peer, Lord Howell and decided to focus fracking in the ‘desolate north’. The gloves are off and they will get a shock if they think we will be so easily pushed around.”
Preston Council votes to oppose fracking in heated debate The Lancashire Evening Post reports that Preston City Council voted to oppose fracking. This was against recommendations of a cross—party task, which proposed the council should “cautiously accept” shale gas extraction.
Fracking could be brought to Wiltshire in plans announced by Government The Wiltshire Times reports that Sites in Trowbridge, Westbury, Warminster and Bradford on Avon could be used for fracking in the near future. The areas are included in oil and gas licences currently out for consultation.
There are 45 fracked wells within 2 miles of my daughter’s school Rodrigo Romo tells The Guardian California is illegally discriminating against students of colour by permitting wells that are disproportionately close to the schools they attend.
Fracking in Nottinghamshire: Which areas could be next? The Nottingham Post reports on areas in the county where licences have been offered and those under consultation.
Is fracking coming to Beeston, Stapleford and Bramcote? The Nottingham Post also reports that residents have vowed to fight against fracking following the award of licences in Broxtowe.
Concerns over dash for gas Lancashire Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, writing in the Letters’ Page of the Lancashire Evening Post, states its concerns on government policy and recent announcements on fracking.
Greens to hold fracking meeting The Kirkintilloch Herald reports that North Lanarkshire Green Party is hosting a public meeting on unconventional gas extraction at Chryston High School at 7.30pm on September 3. They say the aim is to provide information on the current situation and to “highlight the dangers to our communities”.
Floodgates open for fracking The Brighton Argus reports comments by anti-fracking campaigners that the floodgates are open with three sites earmarked for licensing: near Goodwood House, north of Bognor and the outskirts of East Grinstead.
Fracking on the way for Melton and Vale? The Melton Times reports on the prospects of fracking in Melton and the Vale Belvoir following the offer of oil and gas exploration licences
Should the UK be aiming for energy independence? PowerTechnology.com debates whether total energy independence, in an era of depleting fossil fuels, is the right goal. It quotes Professor Paul Stevens, Chatham House’s senior fellow for energy, environment and resources: “I think putting energy independence and energy security together is a mistake because it implies that energy independence, somehow defined as not being dependent on imports, will generate energy security”.
Frack off: Yorkshire is now in the frontline of the fracking war Anti-fracking campaigner, Val Mager, from East Yorkshire, tells International Business Times why she worked to stop Rathlin Energy drilling in her area and is now prepared to take on Cuadrilla.
19 arrested, including grandparents, in Seneca Lake fracking gas protest Earth First Newswire reports 19 protesters were charged with trespass outside methane storage facility under New York’s Seneca Lake. The group formed a human chain blocking the entrance on Route 14 in what they called a “peaceful act of civil disobedience”.
Two Middlesbrough sites identified for possible fracking – subject to consultation The Middlesbrough Gazette reports two sites on Teesside will be assessed for potential fracking, following the offer of oil and gas licences. The two are among those currently out for consultation.
Fracking or drilling possible over most of Isle of Wight On the Wight reports that the vast majority of the Isle of Wight has been earmarked for potential fracking or drilling zones under maps released by the government. Five licences are currently out for consultation on the island.
20th August 2015
Europe needs more gas, so should develop shale gas. Stephen Tindale, co-founder of Climate Answers and a climate and energy consultant, writing for Interfax, explains why the US is the world leader in combatting climate change. He says: “President Barack Obama has told the Environmental Protection Agency to use its powers under the 1970 Clean Air Act to regulate coal more strictly: this regulation will include greenhouse gas emissions. Obama is able to do this because of the American shale gas revolution.” He adds: “Gas is less harmful in climate terms, and is also a more efficient back-up fuel than coal is for intermittent renewables such as wind and solar power. The first climate priority is to stop burning coal. The second priority is to stop burning oil. Gas – including shale gas – can help speed this up.”
19th August 2016
Celtique Energie ordered to pay council and campaign group costs over cancelled planning appeal in West Sussex Our report
Seismic monitoring to be allowed without planning permission under government proposals Our report
Oil and gas leases to encroach on protected areas The ENDS report says the first tranche of licences include 53 sites of special scientific interest and RSPB reserves at Dearne Valley, Fairburn Ings and Langford Lowlands. The RSPB wants the government to include SSSIs in developing guidelines for protected areas. It reneged on a commitment to do so in July, ENDs says.
Third Energy consultation begins North Yorkshire County Council begins eight-week consultation on Third Energy’s planning application NY/2015/0233/ENV to frack its existing well at Kirby Misperton. The consultation ends on 14th October 2015.
Businesses hail new Lancashire fracking licences The Blackpool Gazette reports that Lancashire could still be the heartland of the shale gas industry, with two new areas opened up around Darwen and Chorley. North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Babs Murphy said the announcement of licences in other parts of the country would allow other areas to “put themselves in a position to take that from us if we are not careful. If we continue to be stuck in this long and drawn out planning process, our county could miss out on the biggest opportunity for economic development it has ever seen.”
18th August 2015
Could your area be fracked? Our compilation of details on new the licences: locations, successful operators, local politics and campaigning View here
How the papers reported the licence news (with thanks to the APPG on Unconventional Oil and Gas for the links) Britain’s shale fracking revolution comes with big risks – The Telegraph; UK to issue oil and gas licences in boost for fracking – Financial Times; Fracking in the pipeline as exploration sites offered to firms – BBC News; 1,000 sq miles of England to be opened up for fracking – The Guardian; Swathes of the English countryside are licensed for fast-track fracking – The Times
Total abandons shale gas well in North Jutland Denmark’s energy agency says Total’s Vendsyssel-1 exploration well in North Jutland, will be abandoned and sealed, according to the Danish news website Information. The website says Total confirmed the presence of gas but in smaller quantities than had been expected. Yahoo News report
Countryside opened up to oilmen in fracking drive The Times reports that the results of the 14th round of onshore oil and gas licenses will be announced today. Total of France, Cuadrilla Resources and IGas are likely to benefit, the paper says.
US shale industry faces crackdown on methane gas leaks The FT reports the Obama administration could announce today regulations to curb leaks of methane from new fracking wells. The US industry is generally unconcerned about requirements to cut methane leaks from new wells, but it has fought against controls on existing wells, fearing it would have to spend a lot of money to capture relatively small amounts of gas, the FT says.
Methane leaks in natural-gas supply chain far exceed estimates, study says The New York Times reports on a study by Colorado State University, which found that natural gas gathering facilities, which collect from multiple wells, lose about 100bn cubic feet of natural gas, about eight times as much as estimates used by the Environmental Protection Agency. The study’s lead author, Professor Anthony Marchese said that the amount of gas that escapes from gathering facilities each year could heat 3.2 million homes. Wasting a potentially valuable resource, not to mention harming the environment, he said, mystified him. “Why would you ever vent it when you can use it to generate electricity?”
17th August 2015
Moors scheme to drill for gas likely to be approved The Yorkshire Post reports that Third Energy’s plans to drill for gas and inject waste water at Ebberston Moor in the North York Moors National Park is expected to be approved on Thursday. National Park Authority planners have recommended the scheme for approval, despite around 200 objections, the paper says.
Fracking measures not enough – says Burton business leader Chris Plant, Director of Burton Chamber of Commerce, tells the Burton Daily Mail: “The [Government’s planning] measures announced sound encouraging, but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating – will these measures help applications progress through to drilling and production of shale in the near future?”
Plan for gas drilling in Llangyfelach unveiled by Welsh methane company The South Wales Evening Post reports that UK Methane wants to drill a 1,000m borehole to test for coal bed methane off Bryntywod Road, Llangyfelach, north of Swansea.
Fears for toxic leaks under Firths as Australian gas extraction firm faces contamination charges The National reports that the prosecution of an underground coal gasification plant in Queensland, Australia, on allegations of contaminating farmland have sparked fears that this could happen in Scotland. There are plans for UCG in the Firth of Forth and Solway Firth. Campaigners say it could be disastrous and should be banned. The firms behind the plans say their technology will be deeper and safer than those used in Australia.
New process uses no waster to frack gas wells Public News Service reports from Pennsylvania on a fracking with liquid butane or propane instead of water. GASFRAC Inc says it has developed a closed system designed not to let products leak. But it concedes the system is more difficult and initially expensive than using water.
16th August 2015
Lancashire fracking debate: ‘they are changing the laws to suit themselves’ The Guardian reports on reaction to government planning guidance on fracking planning permissions in the Fylde area of Lancashire, as Cuadrilla appeals against the refusal of permission to frack.
The nation’s supply of gas is too important to be left to local authorities In a letter to The Times, former Director of the Gas Consumers Council in Langford, Ray Cope, says he is not surprised that the Government is “stripping councils of their right to determine fracking applications”. British supplies of natural gas are declining by 8% a year and traditional sources of imports may be threatened in the coming years, he says. He argues fears about fracking “stem mainly from the US” and says it is “insulting” to suggest world-class engineers cannot bring shale gas “safely to our homes”.
15th August 2015
Cuadrilla’s first Lancashire shale gas appeal under way Our report
14th August 2015
Delay ruling on IGas monitoring borehole plans, anti-fracking campaigners urge Our report
Anti-fracking campaigners move fight to West Newton The Hull Daily Mail reports anti-fracking campaigners will turn their attentions to Holderness after Rathlin Energy’s announcement that is closing its Crawberry Hill site.
13th August 2015
Fracking: 6,000 square miles of England earmarked for shale exploration The Telegraph says ministers will announce within days licences for fracking across 1,000 square miles of England. Licences across another 5,000 square miles will be announced later this year, following an environmental consultation. The paper says companies submitted applications for 295 licences, each spanning around 40 sq miles, in the 14th round last year. About 25 were in Scotland and Wales and will no longer be awarded by the UK Government. Nearly 100 applications have been unsuccessful because of concerns about the companies’ finances or plans.
Fracking still opposed in Wales, ministers tell councils BBC News reports that the Welsh Government has written to councils reminding them of the temporary ban on fracking in Wales. This follows the announcement by the UK Government that councils.
ECC consultation deadline Final day for responses to Energy and Climate Change Committee public consultation on which government policies it should scrutinise over the coming year Details
Britain’s sorry struggle with the shale revolution The FT View says fracking will take off in the UK only if communities are properly compensated. The question of compensation ought to be embedded in the planning system itself, becoming an essential part of every local authority decision, the column says. “Britain needs a shale revolution. But this requires developers to be far more realistic about the financial costs they must incur. Resistance by local communities will not be overcome easily.”
12th August 2014
Fracking – the kiss of death? Alan Tootill’s Fracking Digest looks at the implications for the Fylde of a report which found a correlation between the density of fracking wells and hospital visits in two counties in Pennsylvania. He estimates hospital cardiology admissions might be an extra 1,300 a year with fracking in the Fylde. Anything over 600 wells might boost the numbers of people with chronic heart disease by 2,340.
Cuadrilla aren’t welcome here David Nicholls, writing in the letters page of the Blackpool Gazette, says something stinks about Cuadrilla’s plans to relocate from Lichfield to Lancashire. Barry Warner suggests the cryptosporidium bug in Fylde water will be sorted quickly but a fracking water incident could not be dealt with in a number of days.
Lancashire anger after minister’s ‘fracking’ visit Lancashire based anti-fracking campaigners tell the Lancashire Evening Post that IGas’s Doe Green coal bed methane plant, visited by Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, bears no resemblance to how a fracking site would look. Elizabeth Warner, of Roseacre Awareness Group, says the visit was a stunt and a sign of desperation.
10th August 2015
Secret report reveals toxic legacy of coal gasification trials near SE Queensland town of Chinchilla Australia’s ABC reports that a secret study commissioned by Queensland’s environment department says hundreds of square kilometres of prime agricultural land are at risk from chemicals and gases from a coal gasification plant. It says the experimental plant operated by Linc Energy has already done irreversible damage to strategic cropping land.
11th August 2015
Government fracking plans leads to criticism BBC News reports anger among anti-fracking campaigners in Lancashire at government plans to put pressure on local councils to process fracking applications more quickly.
Chris Redston: Is the Government losing the argument over fracking? Chris Redston, communications director of Frack Free Ryedale, writes in the Yorkshire Post, about Amber Rudd’s suggestions that the government will order council to “fast-track” fracking. He describes it as a “cynical attack on local democracy” and contrasts with government promises to allow local communities to veto wind projects.
Environmental and health impacts of ‘fracking’: why epidemiological studies are necessary A commentary by Madelon Finkel and Jake Hays in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health say there are few well-designed epidemiological studies. “There are significant uncertainties about adverse health outcomes that may be associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing, and that should give us cause for concern”, they say.
9th August 2015
Planning rules eased to clear way for fracking The government will unveil measures this week to strengthen the power of ministers if they feel a town hall is deliberately delaying a fracking proposal, according to The Times. The legislation will allow secretaries of state to step in and wrest decisions from local authorities if planners are perceived to be obstructive. Communities Secretary Greg Clark will write to planning authorities setting out new guidance for planning officers considering onshore oil and gas-related planning applications. The announcement comes as Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, pushes for accelerated planning decisions. Writing in The Sunday Times she has stated: “We can’t continue with a system that sees applications dragged out for months, or even years on end which doesn’t give certainty to industry.” Green campaigners have criticised the call for councils to speed up decision-making, arguing fracking is dangerous and can cause pollution.
Other links (with thanks to the APPG on Unconventional Gas and Oil) It’s time to stop blocking fracking, government tells councils – The Times; Amber Rudd promises to fast-track fracking planning – Business Green; Fracking applications could be fast-tracked by UK Government – Energy Voice; Green campaigners rage as ministers plan to fast-track fracking applications – The Mirror; Pressure to speed up fracking decisions angers campaigners – The Yorkshire Post; Stop blocking fracking, UK government tells local councils – RTCC
New Government plans to fast track fracking applications are a sign of “desperation” say environmental campaigners The Argus interviews Andy Durling of Friends of the Earth who says Celtique Energie may reapply for permission to drill at Fernhurst and Wisborough Green to “test the waters” He said it was “very worrying to have such an undermining of local democracy”.
Britain is set to ‘fire up’ a big expansion of the fracking industry According to The Times, the government will unveil the results of the 14th round of oil and gas licences next week. About 95 companies are understood to have submitted bids for nearly 300 drilling licences.
Swinney met fracking giant after moratorium The Herald Scotland reports that Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, met Ineos representatives after the Scottish Government announced a halt to fracking. It was also revealed that the moratorium does not cover underground coal gasification, currently being pursued by Cluff in the Forth.
8th August 2015
Not reassured by pledge on fracking Letters in the Yorkshire Post challenge the content of an earlier article by John Dewar of Third Energy
MSP welcomes Fife Council’s support to close fracking loophole The Courier reports that Labour MSP Claire Baker has welcomed news that Fife Council is backing her calls to close the loophole in the Scottish Government’s ban on fracking, which would allow underground coal gasification. Last week, Fife Council’s deputy leader asked all Fife MSPs to support the council its campaign to include UCG in the moratorium.
7th August 2015
Europa Oil and Gas wins appeal over exploratory drilling in Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Our report
‘Frack now, pay later,’ top services companies say amid oil crash Reuters reports on a sales pitch by oil/gas service companies Schlumberger and Halliburton to producers who are short of cash because of falling prices. The two are willing to take on the role of traditional lenders or take a stake in wells, the news agency says.
Risks mean appeal must be refused Roy Lewis, writing in the letters’ page of the Blackpool Gazette, says there are too many environmental risks from fracking for any community to be expected to sustain. He says he hopes the courts will refuse Cuadrilla’s appeal against refusals of permission to frack at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road
6th August 2015
Unanimous refusal Llanharan Anti-frackers and Frack Off report that the development control committee of Rhondda Cynan Taff council unanimously refused an application by UK Methane (which also trades as Coastal Oil and Gas) for an exploratory borehole for unconventional gas. Application details
MP contacts Energy Minister over fracking bid The Garstang Courier reports Fylde MP Mark Menzies has written to Government Energy minister Amber Rudd to say he supports Lancashire County Council’s decision to refuse Cuadrilla’s planning application for a shale gas exploration site at Roseacre.
Anti-fracking group seeks review over Roseacre monitoring BBC News reports that Roseacre Awareness Group is to seek a judicial review of Lancashire County Council’s decision to allow seismic monitoring at Roseacre Wood, despite turning down an application for fracking. Cuadrilla was granted permission to install 91 monitors and dig three boreholes to monitor seismic activity and water quality.
Cuadrilla moving HQ to Lancashire to boost shale gas fracking operation The Express and Star reports that Cuadrilla is to move its head office from Lichfield in Staffordshire to Lancashire at the beginning of next year. Chief executive Francis Egan told the paper: “Relocating our headquarters to the North West is not only a visible symbol of our continued commitment to exploration for shale gas in Lancashire but will enable an even greater focus in growing our supplier base and employees from the area.”
Minister says fracking would be subject to highest safety standards on visit to Warrington The Warrington Guardian reports on the visit by Andrea Leadsom, energy minister, to the IGas Doe Green site. The company produces coal bed methane at the site on Farnworth Road near Penketh. It is one of two potential fracking sites in Warrington. The other is near the Thelwall Viaduct, the paper says. Mrs Leadsom described the site as “very quiet”, “very low level” and the well heads no taller than a six foot man. “It’s very quiet, very small and very unobtrusive”. DECC press release
Andy Burnham manifesto promises ‘moratorium’ on fracking Business Green reports that Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham has reiterated his calls for a moratorium on fracking in the UK with the release today of his leadership manifesto. Burnham said shale gas exploration should be stopped until there is “much clearer evidence on its environmental impact”. He added that if it is ever approved, local communities should have the final say over whether it goes ahead in their local area.
Involve everyone in making future energy choices Rebecca Lunn, a fellow of the Royal Society of Engineering, writing in The Scotsman, says Scotland requires, and will continue, gas for the near future and it must be sourced from somewhere. The decision must be reached with the participation of a well-informed public who are given a genuine opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process, she says.
5th August 2015
Fracking battle is on the move The Blackpool Gazette, among others, reports that IGas has applied to Nottinghamshire County Council to drill 12 groundwater monitoring boreholes at land in Misson, where it wants to frack for gas. See our Daily Headline of 16th July 2015. Other links (with thanks to the APPG on Unconventional Gas and Oil) Misson borehole plans should be deferred, urge anti-fracking campaigners – Retford Times; Shale gas firm submits Bassetlaw monitoring plan – BBC News; Fresh plans to frack move forward in Nottinghamshire – Business Green; Permission sought for exploratory fracking work in Nottinghamshire – Business Reporter
Shale gas guide The Energy Institute publishes what it calls the essential guide to shale gas. The Energy Institute’s chief executive says its surveys show shale gas is the single most poorly communicated energy topic. She said the 20-page document would promote better understanding between the energy sector and wider society. The Energy Institute describes itself as “the professional body for the energy industry”.
Call to action Friends of the Earth is urging supporters to contact MPs about the Government’s draft regulations for fracking, published just before parliament broke for the summer. An energy minister promised in January during a debate on the Infrastructure Bill that fracking would not be allowed in Sites of Special Scientific Interest. But SSSIs are not included in the excluded areas in the regulations. Fracking will also be allowed under (but not from) National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There is no special protection for Groundwater Protection Zones. FOE briefing
John Dewar: why fracking in Yorkshire should go ahead The Yorkshire Post carries an article by the operations director of Third Energy, which has applied for permission to frack for gas at Kirby Misperton in Ryedale. He says his company has produced 30bn cubic feet of gas from wells in the Ryedale area and generated 2,000,000 Mwh of electricity without affecting tourism, agriculture or public health.
4th August 2015
Opposition to fracking rises as people know more about it – survey Our report
Barton Moss Case resumes and adjourns again The long-running trial of more than 40 people arrested for obstruction and aggravated trespass outside IGas’s gas drilling site at Barton Moss in Salford resumed for half a day and adjourned. It heard evidence from expert witnesses for the prosecution and people on trial of contamination around the site. The trial resumes on Monday 7th September.
Yorkshire MP’s international quest to gather fracking facts The Yorkshire Post reports that Kevin Hollinrake, MP for the Ryedale area where Third Energy has applied to frack, is spending five days in a self-funded trip to Philadelphia to find out how fracking there has affected local community groups and local authorities.
Monday 3rd August
Winding-up hearing The London Gazette reports a meeting due to be held today to wind up Horse Hill Developments Ltd by P W ell Services Ltd. HHDL was the well operator owned by companies behind the Horse Hill well near Gatwick.
Obama’s clean power plan will hit shale gas share of electricity The Guardian reports that US fracking companies are furious over the incentives given to solar and wind under the clean power plan will renewables with a fighting chance to compete as coal is phased out. Bloomberg and the FT also suggest fossil fuels will lose out.
Cuadrilla fracking decisions The Blackpool Gazette carries letters in favour and against the decisions to refuse Cuadrilla’s applications to frack in Lancashire.
Jeremy Cresswell: Latest fracking research disturbs Energy Voice carries an opinion piece on research from Stanford University’s Rob Jackson on minimising the risks of fracking to drinking water sources. Work published in Environmental Science and Technology finds that at least 6,900 wells in the US were fracked at less than 1.6km from the surface and at least 2,600 wells were fracked at less than 914m, some as shallow as 30m. This is despite assurances that fracking is safe for drinking water only if it occurs a mile underground.
2nd August 2015
Third Energy increases North Sea stake Energy Voice reports the offshore division of Third Energy, has paid Atlantic Petroleum £7.5m on completion of the sale of its 10% stake in Pegasus West and other blocks. Rasik Valand chief executive of Third Energy, says: “Closing the Pegasus acquisition from Atlantic is another significant milestone for Third Energy as we move our business forward on all fronts.
1st August 2015
Rathlin Energy runs out of time for extended well test at Crawberry Hill in East Yorkshire Our report
‘Allow fracking or UK will become living museum’, warns business leader who wants to override local planners The Mail on Sunday interviews John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, who says Britain must resolve planning to solve problems in the energy sector. “There has to be an override in the national interest or we will end up a living museum like Greece”.
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