Gas company seeks to bankrupt anti-fracking campaigner

RollsBuildingRathlin Energy, a gas exploration company working in East Yorkshire, sought a bankruptcy order this morning against a leading anti-fracking campaigner.

Lawyers representing the company went to the High Court in London to recover thousands of pounds from Ian Crane, a broadcaster and speaker against fracking and the activities of the onshore oil and gas industry.

Rathlin Energy said the money was owed from the costs of an earlier legal case.

But the judge, Chief Registrar Stephen Baister, adjourned the hearing until January next year for Mr Crane to contest the debt.

After the hearing, a member of Rathlin’s legal team told Mr Crane the cost of the bankruptcy proceedings amounted to more than £5,000 and that alone would be enough to bankrupt him.

Mr Crane said in the light of this comment:

“It has become personal. Rathlin Energy are going for the jugular”.

Mr Crane, a former oil executive, presents the weekly web broadcast Fracking Nightmare, in which he comments on the activities of Rathlin Energy and other onshore drilling companies. He also gives talks to community groups about what he says are the risks of fracking.

Rathlin Energy has consistently said it has not carried out hydraulic fracturing at its sites in East Yorkshire and has no intention of doing so.

Crawberry Castle

Today’s case dates back to 2014. In June that year opponents of Rathlin Energy’s operations built a structure called Crawberry Castle, blocking access to the company’s Crawberry Hill exploration site, near Beverley.

Rathlin Energy asked the High Court for permission to remove the structure and Mr Crane was one of four people named as defendants in the case. A judge granted a possession order and in July 2014 bailiffs evicted protesters and removed Crawberry Castle. Rathlin then sought to recover the costs of the case from Mr Crane and the three other named defendants.

Rathlin’s barrister, Ashley Cukier, said the company was seeking £34,000 plus interest from Mr Crane and asked the judge to make a bankruptcy order.

Mr Crane asked the court to regard Ian Crane as a trust and said he was its executor. But Chief Registrar Baister described this as “nonsense” and said he would grant the order unless Mr Crane confirmed that he was appearing before the court in person.

Mr Crane said he had not received a transcript of the original court case or a breakdown of the costs incurred by Rathlin Energy.

He asked for the default costs certificate to be set aside and the judge adjourned the hearing for 28 days until 20th January 2016.


Mr Crane said after the hearing he was now considering his options. He said:

“Rathlin are looking to neuter me and the rest of the industry is watching to see how this will go down.”

He said if he were made bankrupt he would have to rely on cash donations.

Mr Crane said the government and industry was “prepared to ride rough-shod over anyone who gets in the way”. The lesson from the case was, he said, “to take your action but do not put your name to it.” He added:

“If you have the audacity to challenge the corporation as a private citizen you are running a risk of losing everything that you accumulate but no individual in the corporation has put anything at risk”.

A spokesperson for Rathlin Energy said this evening:

“As far as Rathlin Energy is concerned this is a matter of pusuing costs of the High Court case and nothing else.”

The case continues on 20th January 2016.

29 replies »

  1. Geology has always suffered from this. So many people think that because they walk around on the surface of the Earth and have experienced walking about and the weather that they have some sort of magical intuition about its geology. There mere fact that for thousands of years people intuited the geology utterly incorrectly should give them pause and make them ask if, just perhaps, without studying it and with no experience of it, they might not really understand it at all.

    They won’t of course. Most people will continue to think that their experience of being alive gives them some sort of magical geological powers. Sit them down and give them a multiple choice exam on petrology, sedimentology, geophysics etc and of course most people would suddenly accept that they were not going to magically intuit the correct answers.

    OK, so someone worked in the HR department of a company that did something to do with a natural science and engineering. Is it likely that they picked up on the science and the engineering enough to really become an authority that could deal significant blows to all the academics saying they were wrong? Of course not.

    Some academics say he is ‘right’ of course, although actually they don’t. Look behind the curtain past all the activists and NGOs making their claims and what you actually see is study after study saying its limitations, saying that fracking isn’t the cause of the thing it might have found and that traffic or local regulations likely are, or flat out saying something that has been utterly discredited, or, in the last example, says something completely different in the headline than in the conclusions.

    Get used to it. Its all they’ve got. Its a movement built on scaring people with the aim of scaring politicians, not based on using all the science and presenting it honestly. If it did that you wouldn’t see people making grandiose claims or every news headline from the usual PR friendly media outlets sticking in the usual key words. It would properly represent the risks and their contexts in local regulations in the different US states. Not ignore 99,000 wells that went by with no issues to pick the one that spilled something. Instead of saying ‘fracking causes catastrophe’ it would be more like ‘a waste pond at X leaked meaning a rate of 1 in 3000 which could have been stopped by either banning waste ponds or double lining the area’ etc. You know – real science not presented in biased ways (which is actually one of the principles of honest science in the first place).

  2. Japan are in the throws of stopping it’s citizens being able to question what happened a Fukashema by protect the corporation from public scrutiny ….this is again a way a corporation can stop(discourage) opposition to whatever ridiculously environmentally devastating process it’s think-tanks can come up with and then sell to it’s greed first board/shareholders by the individuals that will lose there land,livelihood/health and that of there children …..Surely rather than the trend to prevent public scrutiny through punitive (look what will happen to you actions) to bully to public into placid acquiescence of all and any injustice done to them we should be asking ,,,why is a government with so many individual members having vested interests in the oil/gas off shoot companies is allowed to change laws held dear for centuries bully local government offer bribes and instruct against climate control agreements of which they are signatories ,the lifting of the moratorium on this industrial process and the exploration of sites for abuse of ..
    Mr Crane has raised awareness of this insidious and somewhat destructive process by his actions so in my view has performed a valid public service so am for this to be thrown out and this government to be held to account for it’s unethical practices…

  3. Has Ratlin Energy brought Bankruptcy Actions against the other three named as defendants in the case? or have they already paid costs? If not then surely this is pointing to a personal grudge or an attempt to silence him, which does seem unjust.

    I also thought this was untrue, “Rathlin Energy has consistently said it has not carried out hydraulic fracturing at its sites in East Yorkshire and has no intention of doing so.” as didn’t they admit doing a test frack that went wrong?

  4. So let’s focus on the UK so far….

    On the subject of who knows what about fracking and the science lets reflect on the technical competence of Cuadrilla. After all they present themselves as experts in the field. Lets take a peek at the DECC Review and Recommendations report of Preese Hall to remind ourselves of the events and the science as presented by the BGS and others.

    Six small fracks on 1 vertical well.That should be easy for a specialist company. Apparently not.They managed to drill through or near a fault and then inject into the fault causing 50 seismic events, two of which were felt many kilometres away.No 3D survey before they started. We later find the well casing has been deformed and more recently a FOI from HSE appears to shows integrity issues higher up unrelated to the deformation. No cement bond log until pushed for by concerned residents.

    They have managed to get drill bits “stuck” at Annas Rd,Becconsall,and Singleton requiring deviation wells to be sunk.

    After causing a 2.3M quake they suggested that future maximum thresholds should be set at 1.7M. They had to be reminded by the BGS that this figure would carry a post event rise of 0.9M meaning they think it is okay to cause 2.6M quakes. Strange suggestion after the problems that arose from 2.3M. The proposed traffic light system is another farce as the 0.5M threshold is for “the next few operations” and can be “adjusted over time”

    The science states that the Bowland Shale is heavily faulted. In the US the industry spends millions avoiding faults.It is to expensive to loose fluid into faults,it triggers quakes,and it leads to fluid and gas migration (not up the well).

    How exactly do you think it will play out if hundreds of wells at varying heights and orientations are fracked,and refracked in shale formations that we have been told are full of faults bearing in mind that a 2/3M event only requires a relatively small rupture area?
    From the scientific and technical facts to date and from the future recommendations I cannot see the potential of the development of a shale gas industry in Lancashire.

    • An additional concern is the apparent proposal to cluster 30 or more wells on single sites. The concern centres on the significantly increased risk of well bore collision on multi well pads. A well bore collision incident is likely to have acute and devastating environmental and human health impacts.

      • Rubbish – as usual. How do you think offshore production is possible? Platforms often have as many as 40 wells drilled from a central location. They are drilled directionally using gyro steering tools and measurement while drilling tools, the similar technology used by the military to target successfully cruise missiles. I drilled many “clusters” offshore all over the world and never had a well bore collision. And I do not recall any in the areas I have worked. Occasionally wells are deliberately intercepted by new well bores, usually several thousand feet below surface. The same technology is used to allow a 8-1/2″ drill bit to hit a 7″ steel casing 15,000 ft. below ground level.

        The Shell Brent Field has 4 platforms (clusters) and 140 wells drilled from these 4 wells.

        Adjacent wells are plugged temporarily when surface drilling new wells nearby. So even if there was a wellbore collision nothing would happen other than it would cost the Operator money.

        “Acute and devestating environmental and human health impacts” – complete rubbish!

  5. Some good arguments / points above for both sides, the point for me is that in an industry with such widespread public opinion and doubt, these companies need to operate without reproach to gain public confidence, from what I am led to believe they do not. It’s all quite saddening.

  6. Here is a conversation I have done with Brian Monk who lives in the heart of the gas fields in Queensland, Australia. He and others are getting sick from the unconventional gas industry, you don’t have to be a scientist to know that this industry is toxic. Listen to the conversation, it speaks for itself. We raised the money for the people to be tested for chemicals, etc and the answer is in the conversation.

  7. ( 1 ) Google search,

    Breast Cancer UK fracking
    Breast Cancer action fracking

    To read about the fracking dangers.

    ( 2 ) How will the Northwest towns and city residents deal with the added burden of toxic waste water when the Fracking Rigs are flooded during heavy rainfall ?

  8. A hugely hardworking, honest and passionate campaigner for the future of the UK, both economic and ecologic. I believe the court will find in his favour.

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