How many wells does Third Energy want to frack at Kirby Misperton?


Cllr Paul Andrews

A local councillor in North Yorkshire says Third Energy showed him a diagram of ten horizontal boreholes leading from the well the company wants to frack for shale gas at Kirby Misperton.

John Dewar

John Dewar

Paul Andrews, the deputy mayor of Malton and chair of Habton Parish Council, said today he was shown the drawing by John Dewar, Third Energy’s operations director. He has twice asked for a copy but Mr Dewar has declined to provide it.

Cllr Andrews, who is also an independent member of Ryedale District Council, said:

“Mr Dewar made it very clear that Third Energy are planning at least ten boreholes at Kirby Misperton and I feel this information should be in the public domain.”

Third Energy is currently applying for planning permission to frack, test and produce gas from the vertical KM8 well at Kirby Misperton. The application stated that fracking five sections of the well would take only six weeks and there would be no drilling. There was no reference to future plans for the site.

Cllr Andrews said if the KM8 well got permission it would set a precedent.

“The public should be told what Third Energy’s long-term plans are now – not after the current planning application is decided – when it may well be too late.”

“Mr Dewar now appears to be stalling for time. Perhaps he is waiting to see if KM8 is approved before revealing Third Energy’s long-term plans to the local villages.

Third Energy issued a statement this afternoon saying the diagrams were “very early conceptual sketches” used to “communicate complex ideas”. The statement, which can be seen in full at the end of this post,  added:

“These early sketches were not the result of any engineering work and the company has no plans in this regard. These early conceptual sketches attempted to show how one small surface wellpad can cover considerable distances underground which increases the separation between well pads and reduces their number.”

“Proper engineering drawing”

Cllr Andrews described the illustration to DrillOrDrop as a “proper engineering diagram” that measured several feet across.

“The illustration showed ten lines radiating from the KM8 well-site in all directions and then converging into two sets of parallel lines running in opposite directions. Mr Dewar explained that these lines represented ten horizontal boreholes, and they would need to run in parallel so that they follow the grain of the shale rock.”

Cllr Andrews said:

“Ten horizontal boreholes at Kirby Misperton would mean the local villages would have to endure years of drilling and fracking. It takes about a hundred days to drill each borehole – the KM8 well itself took 114 days to drill in 2013 – and drilling has to be continuous, day and night. The drilling is noisy and the drilling rigs are lit up at night like Christmas trees.”

“These wells would then all need to be fracked, which again is a noisy, disruptive process, and would condemn the local villages and nearby Flamingo Land to years of HGV traffic, noise, air and light pollution, potential water contamination and general disruption to their daily lives.”

KM8 radius

Location of KM8 well (white dot in centre of image) with Kirby Misperton Village and Flamingo Lane tourist resort

Request for diagram

Cllr Andrews said he had emailed Mr Dewar twice to ask for a copy of the diagram to show to members of Habton Parish Council. Mr Dewar said the councillor would be welcome to the information at “the appropriate time”.

Cllr Andrews said he saw the diagram during a meeting of a liaison group for local councillors held at Third Energy’s offices at Knapton Generating Station on 10th November. He said:

“John Dewar was not part of the meeting. He kept coming in and out. I said at the beginning I was opposed to what they were doing. He acknowledged that. I asked questions and put some points. He took me into his office and showed me a couple of drawings.”

According to Cllr Andrews, Mr Dewar said the area covered by the illustration was nine miles by five miles.

“I think he was trying to show me it [the Kirby Misperton operation] was not going to have an impact on the environment.

“He said if you used renewable energy you would not get half as much energy as you would get from all of this.”

“The message I am taking is that for fracking to be effective you have to frack along a grain of the rock. What they are talking about is sending out laterals with five on either side of the well.”

“It came out of the blue”

Cllr Andrews said he was shocked by the diagram.

“It came out of the blue. If I had had proper warning I would have asked a lot of questions. I was quite taken by surprise.”

It does, however, support what Mr Dewar told a committee of MPs in March when he said Third Energy would need up to 19 fracking sites with up to 50 wells on each. DrillOrDrop report.

The tourist resort of Flamingo Land, on the edge of Kirby Misperton, has not objected to the KM8 planning application but it said it would have “massive concerns” about the prospect of multiple fracking sites in the area. DrillOrDrop report

Cllr Andrews said:

“It appears that Kirby Misperton is planned to be the first of these 19 well-sites, with a plan for at least ten boreholes on the site in the coming years.”

“Work in progress”

Cllr Andrews said he mentioned the diagram to members of Habton Parish Council, who asked to see a copy. He wrote to Mr Dewar on 16th November:

“It would be much appreciated if you could send one either to me or to the Parish Clerk, Nicky Mason.”

Mr Dewar replied the same day saying:

“I would be very happy to but as you can appreciate, it is still work in progress.

“I will naturally keep you, the parish councils and the general public informed but it has to be done in a controlled manner as we don’t want start any hares running.”

Cllr Andrews emailed again on 23rd November

“I will shortly have to report back to the Parish Council. You said in your previous email that you would be happy to send me a copy of the illustration you showed me at the last Liaison meeting of the plans for further wells at KM8, as I would like to include it in my report. Please send the illustration as a PDF or jpeg, whichever is easier. I would be grateful if I could receive this by Friday 27th November.”

Mr Dewar replied on 1st December

“I repeat what I said earlier, and that was that you are more than welcome to see the information, but only at the appropriate time. As you can appreciate I have to go through a number of steps and consultations before I can release anything. And being honest, I have not progressed the work very far from what you last saw. With your reminder I will try to spend some more time on it.”

Cllr Andrews said this morning:

“My feeling is that perhaps he regrets having shown me and he doesn’t want to make it public. My view is that this is a document that should be made public.”

Planning application

According to the Third Energy’s planning statement, if the KM8 well were considered commercially viable after fracking it would be hooked up to production equipment at the site, with “only minor additional equipment”. The statement said:

“Once permanent hook-up is complete and commissioned, production of natural gas will commence and continue until cessation of natural gas production, which is anticipated to be circa nine years.”

Once the well reached the end of production it would be decommissioned and abandoned, the planning statement said.

Chapters five and six of the planning statement deal with the phases of the development from preparation to site restoration. A search revealed no reference to “lateral”, “side-track” or “horizontal” wells.

Third Energy response

Third Energy made the following statement:

“It is important to recognise that the diagrams shared with Councillor Andrews were very early conceptual sketches to try and communicate complex ideas.

“These early sketches were not the result of any engineering work and the company has no plans in this regard.

“These early conceptual sketches attempted to show how one small surface wellpad can cover considerable distances underground which increases the separation between well pads and reduces their number.

“The information was shown to Councillor Andrews outside of the formal liaison group to educate him on how subsurface development can access a resource over a large area with minimal surface footprint. Extended reach horizontal drilling can be complex to explain, and difficult to understand so the sketches were used to try and simplify that process of explanation, although these conceptual sketches do not represent a proposal or plan of any kind.”

North Yorkshire County Council is expected to make a decision on the KM8 application in February 2016.


21 replies »

  1. “Third Energy is currently applying for planning permission to frack, test and produce gas from the vertical KM8 well at Kirby Misperton. The application stated that fracking five sections of the well would take only six weeks and there would be no drilling. There was no reference to future plans for the site.”

    And nor does there need to be any reference to future plans at this stage, because this is an exploratory test well. It could yet prove a dud, in which case there may then be no further activity at the Kirby Misperton site.

    During the Lancashire County Council DCC meetings in June, shale gas opponents claimed it was inappropriate for Cuadrilla and its supporters to start making projections about the future scale of jobs and economic impacts because the proposed developments are only temporary exploration sites at this stage. If that’s the case, then it’s also inappropriate for people to demand details of what an operator might one day consider doing with a given site.

    • Did Cuadrilla ask for NINE YEARS of production as part of a test frack? It is completely unacceptable that Third Energy should ask for nine years of production without stating what their intentions are, what that may entail and how the local area will be impacted. If NYCC grant permission for the test frack it should be for the test only, they should not grant production of shale gas on this site without all the facts and unless any flow test has proved successful.

  2. One of the arguments for ‘fracking’, is that from a single well head, they can ‘frack’ a greater area, with a lower environmental (visual) impact. They do this, by repeatedly drilling but at different bearings and ‘fracking’. Using vast quantities of water and chemicals, with the resulting large amount of waste.

    • And when they create all that waste where do they imagine it’s all going? America uses open pits because of the expense of running diesel guzzling HGV’s. and sends it back down the boreholes and they can’t cope with the volumes. It’s shear madness to think our communities are going to have to put up with this. Wait until the compressors start running 24/7. They are also responsible for terrible air pollution.

      • They sent the waste water from Preese Hall to #UnitedUtilities Davyhulme waste water plant. The plant went sour, though they blamed it on other issues and ended up dumping the radioactive waste water into the Manchester Ship Canal! And this was just from an exploratory bore hole.

  3. It seems very unlikely that John Dewar and Third Energy would have professionally drawn engineering diagrams of lateral wells at Kirby Misperton just to exemplify how horizontal fracking is done, or to ‘communicate complex ideas’, as Mr Dewar claims. It is also not credible to think that Third Energy have not drawn up any long-term plans for what they will do at Kirby Misperton if the test-frack is successful. How could they attract the necessary investment for the next stage of fracking without doing so? It is therefore highly likely that the engineering diagram Cllr Andrews was shown is the real deal, and now they are back-pedalling furiously to contain this PR disaster. However, the hares are already running, it seems. Why not just come clean, Mr Dewar, and publish the engineering drawing for all to see?

  4. Well that really backfired for JD.
    Expect he was trying to impress the councillor and has in fact scared him to death.
    The hares have been running for some time now!

  5. Wellbore collision

    Wellbore collision

    Wellbore collision

    catastrophic human and environmental results of an unplanned well collision

  6. Why are we supposed to believe that having 10 (or 40 as they claim in Lancs) laterals of one well will mean less well pads? In reality it just means that will get more productivity from the existing ones, but with a huge increase in and concentration of impacts on the local area.

  7. It is also very clear from a recent valuation of a near by property that it has already had impact on its value by almost £11k why should local people pay the price for lower energy prices for others, I believe this would not be allowed should third energy have found a suitable site in the south of the country. Is this what is meant by the northern power house.

  8. Comment posted on behalf of Lorraine Allanson, spokesperson for Friends of Ryedale Gas Exploration
    During a fact finding visit to Knapton Generating Station I pressed Mr Dewar for evidence that Third Energy would be able to have as minimal impact on the environment as possible. I was concerned because people dislike the thought of the region being industrialised. Wind and solar farms of course are very intrusive and I wanted to know that the gas industry would be less intrusive. I can confirm that I too was shown the same drawings which revealed how few well pads would be needed across Ryedale using horizontal drilling techniques and how little impact they would have in the area compared to wind turbines and solar panels. It was stressed to me that these were only very conceptual and that they did not form any company plans as no one knows if the well is going to flow any gas until it has been tested. It was quite clear to me that Third energy were simply looking at concepts to reduce their environmental footprint. Mr Andrews should be glad that the company is looking for ways to reduce its impact and still protect jobs and energy security for the country. Common sense dictates that if Mr Dewar had anything to hide he certainly would not have shown Cllr Paul Andrews, a well known opponent to fracking, his future plans!

    • If an industrial site being accessed by HGV’s and operated on 24/7 is more ‘intrusive’ than a wind farm or solar panel than I must have a different meaning of the word

    • Hello Lorraine. I’m pleased you are holding on to your hope that you are being told the truth.
      Tell me, you do know that the tiny spot in fields at KM are just test sites, and once fracking rolls out the site will extend across the field to accommodate seismic monitors, drill equip. lights, flaring equip., parked cars and lorries, tin cabins, storage for equipment and materials etc? And of course some site with just one drill currently will be used for pouring radioactive waste water into rather than being used for horizontal drilling. In addition there is the big well the size of a field, per fracking activity, that has to be built, perhaps more than one well, where do you imagine these are going to be sited? Where will the sand(huge amounts) be stored?

      Have you asked the nice men about these issues at all?
      How many lorries will bring in sand daily/weekly
      How many lorries will bring in equipment daily/weekly
      Which routes are the lorries taking to collect and deliver sand, equipment and transport gas?
      How many flares will be lit per site?
      How near to homes will 24 hour a day lighting be used at each site?
      How much rogue methane gas escaping into the air does the company expect to escape during each day/week/month/year?
      Given no site in the US has experienced leakage free wells and emissions, what is new to UK fracking that makes it so leak free?
      How much radioactive water will be left behind in boreholes after fracking has stopped?
      How long will it take for that radioactive water to seep upwards into grazing and agricultural land?
      How safe for children and domestic pets will that land be twenty years from now?
      How is radioactive waste being injected into many boreholes going to be prevented from entering freshwater surface water over the next twenty years?
      How much of the 1000,000 pounds will it take to clean up the environment once fracking has finished?
      Is this money being given in addition to Third energy cleaning up the environment, or instead of Third Energy cleaning up the environment?
      What kind of damage does the industry anticipate will be done in the environment? If none, why are they offering a million pounds?
      In the US fracking companies changed their name to escape being sued for spillages, damage to people and the environment, why has Viking changed its name to Third Energy?
      Has a pre assessment of mineral and toxic pollutants already been done by the industry or the EA prior to fracking activity?
      Where is the data published if this has happened?
      Are methane emissions being assessed across the range of emissions activity such as from : lorries, fracking, flaring, generators, rogue emission estimates, compressors and at gas processing sites?
      Where is the current emission data being published? How will it be added to once fracking begins to inform local people, schools mums and toddlers, nurseries etc of any dangers arising to their children and unborn babies?
      Has a full pre environmental impact assessment been done in the area of freshwater, soil samples and air, where is the data published? For example, how much radioactivity , methane, ethane and highly hazardous pollutant is already known to be in the area?

      Of course there are many more questions, but until we know which boreholes will be used to dump toxic wastewater into groundwater, and which boreholes are being exploited for further gas extraction, and where the frac sand is going to be stored, and brought in from, and where the pipes are going to run to and from, and which routes lorries are going to take etc, there is little point asking the rest of the questions?

      Of course we would like to trust industrialists but given the libor, banking PPI and illicit bank charges, as well as the recent VW emissions scandal it seems we might be foolish imagining people are trustworthy and reliable and honest as we are, then hoping and praying we are right, but in truth often they are not.
      Meanwhile lets take a look at how Cuadrilla and other fracking companies behave:
      and do go to this http://www.fractracker.org/resources/photos/ as well as
      to homepage for more………..

      I would love to know the answers to these questions Lorraine. Looking forward to your reply…….

      • Mar g May I make sensible suggestion, please go and read he planning application in full. It is very clear from your comment that you do not understand the UK regulations nor the application. If you do, you will see that much of what you think is going to happen isn’t even allowed in the UK. Do you live in the USA?

    • I wonder how many pads the other companies will drill? There are 25 new licence areas being evaluated right now for the Ryedale and adjoining areas, a total of 33 for North Yorkshire! Third Energy will not be the only licence owners, indeed they aren’t now – Moorland Energy also has a large PEDL in Ryedale. If each of the new licence blocks have 10 pads each (similar to what Third Energy has now, six active and new licence blocks applied for, that would be 250 pads minimum and 10 laterals coming of each well – that is huge disruption and industrialisation by any standard.
      Not only do these new sites need constructing but new pipelines, compressor stations etc will required and then there will be all the fracking and drilling.
      I seem to recall there was a lot of opposition when Moorland Energy wanted to construct a new gas processing plant at Thornton Dale, I’m sure Ms Allanson will remember that well.

    • On the question of the number of wells watch the evidence provided by John Dewar of Third Energy to Parliament on 10 March 2015. He explained a site would have up to 50 wells.

      See at 15:55

      Each well will take 2 months to to drill and frack. Imagine 100 months or eight years of non stop drilling and fracking at Kirby Misperton.

      OK on the generous side it might take only one month per well. Imagine 50 months or four years of non stop drilling and fracking at Kirby Misperton.

      Wellbore collision

      Wellbore collision

      Wellbore collision

    • This is interesting. I wonder why Lorraine could not have posted this herself? Too many big words, perhaps? Or maybe Third Energy hadn’t had time to prepare a press release for her?
      As other people have said, if she thinks an industry that requires millions of truck movements, drilling and fracking 24/7 and disposal of millions of gallons of radioactive waste water has a lower environmental impact than a solar farm or some wind turbines – which, after they are put there, just produce electricity quietly, require no water or truck movements and produce no global warming gases – she must be living on a different planet. Isn’t it interesting that the only people in favour of fracking are those who will benefit financially from it, as she does by having gas industry people coming to stay in her B&B. Everyone else doesn’t want this industry, and the opposition is growing every week.

      • I didn’t post the comment myself because whenever I have tried to post a comment on Drill or Drop it never appears. Perhaps you should ask Ruth Hayhurst why? When I pointed this out to Ruth she kindly offered to post it on my behalf.
        Referring to your insults at my ability to use the English language, this shows that you obviously feel superior.You clearly think I am just a lowly female B&B owner who cleans toilets for a living and should not, and is not, capable of expressing an opinion. That Mr Whitehead is sexist. This may explain why Frack Free Ryedale use women as their front line in tabards and headscarves because, is this where you and they believe women should be, in the kitchen or cleaning toilets, knowing our ‘place’? This is the 21st Century Mr Whitehead. That possibly explains why Frack Free Ryedale never use a female spokesperson and employ a man from London to be their mouthpiece.
        P.S The delay in responding to your comment is I have better things to do, I run a business.

  9. People aren’t sure what Third Energy mean when they talk about frack sites.
    They don’t realise there will be very many up to 19 in KM, sites, each with
    one well, then frac sand sites, frac radioactive dump sites, water and gas
    processing sites…all happily photographed so people can
    see….here…perhaps you could share as Third Energy are telling a
    different story and playing cat and mouse with information given out….


    and do go to this http://www.fractracker.org/resources/photos/ as well as
    to homepage for more………..

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