Our digest of December’s headlines about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas developments – and reaction to them, including:
- MPs approve fracking under National Parks and other protected areas. Labour calls for a fracking moratorium
- Government announces second set of oil and gas licences. INEOS is the big winner
- Oil and gas companies to be allowed to drill monitoring boreholes without planning permission.
- Rathlin Energy seeks to bankrupt anti-fracking campaigner over costs from a court case seeking an eviction order at Crawberry Hill.
- Upton Community Protection Camp given until December 4th before bailiffs have right to evict – but so far no action taken.
- Third Energy shows councillor a diagram with 10 wells at Kirby Misperton
- Swansea Council approves coal bed methane scheme but objectors say they’ll make formal complaint
- MPs on the Energy and Climate Change select committee seek government answers on carbon capture and storage.
- Task Force on Shale Gas recommends shale gas exploration but chairman says government decision to cancel CCS is “absurd”
- Methane plume revealed over southern California from gas storage site leaking 110,000 pounds per hour
31st December 2015
2015 fracking review of the year. DrillOrDrop report
The government in the UK just doesn’t care. Cat Turner, writing for Isle of Man Today, reports on the extension of potential fracking sites in the 14th licensing round and the report by the Task Force on Shale Gas.
Green Party chiefs in Worcestershire attack Government over fracking plans. The Malvern Gazette reports on reaction to the vote to allow fracking under National Parks, World Heritage Sites and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Louis Stephen, chair of Worcester Green Party tells the paper: “It’s crazy that the Government encouraged more use of fossil fuels like fracked gas literally in the same week that it cut subsidies to renewable energy sources such as domestic solar panels.”
Green Party campaigner Dominic Tristram pens letter after Ben Howlett’s fracking vote. The Green Party’s general election candidate writes to The Bath Chronicle about the vote on fracking in World Heritage Sites like the city. The elected MP, Conservative Ben Howlett, originally said he backed plans to safeguard the area. But later voted with the government. Mr Tristram writes: “If Mr Howlett had any real connection with Bath he would understand that the vast majority of the people recognise that fracking is a real danger both to their area, and for the environment in general.”
Anti-fracking campaigners in Upton clear up around camp. The Chester Standard reports that anti-fracking campaigners organised a litter pick near their protest camp. The group cleaned up the hedge along Duttons Lane near the Upton Community Protection Camp.
Fracking threat to our water. Malcolm Hara writes to The Yorkshire Post that water quality is threatened by pollution from fracking.
30th December 2015
Manchester Ship Canal owner primed for shale gas business. Proactive Investors reports that Peel is using its strategic landbank, including the Manchester Ship Canal and the Port of Liverpool, to help shale gas firms locate and develop well sites. The website says: “A large chunk of the 11,479 square kilometres of the UK handed over to shale gas drillers in last week’s onshore licensing round is right in the backyard of the property and infrastructure group”.
Upton anti-fracking camp protesters deny assaulting bailiff. The Chester Chronicle reports on three residents of the Upton Community Protection Camp who denied assaulting bailiff Mark Williams on 23rd October. Chester Magistrates Court heard how Mr Williams was trying to gain entry to the site at Duttons Lane when two incidents involving the men were alleged to have happened. A trial will begin on 29th March 2016.
Don’t misrepresent fracking’s opponents. Two letters to The Yorkshire Post comment on plans for fracking in North Yorkshire. Chris Redston, of Frack Free Ryedale, responds to comments by Lorraine Allanson (who in turn wrote in response to a letter by local landowners). Mr Redston says people were capable of making up their own minds about fracking and would not be misled, as Miss Allanson suggested, by scare stories. Steven White writes that he visited Pennsylvania, going to the same places as the local MP Kevin Hollinrake. He says: “We met families with poisoned water sources; heard stories of a decimated tourist industry; found out about the boom-and-bust impact with itinerant workers swarming through then moving on; of residents taking sides and communities being ripped apart in bitter quarrels.
Helmsley Town Council invites residents to join Fracking Working Group. Helmsley Blog reports on a town council vote on 14th December to set up a group to make sure local people are informed about fracking across Ryedale. Local people are invited to join a working group, which aims to keep abreast of developments and keep residents informed, as well as liaising with other councils.
Fracking vote is ‘disappointing’. The Petersfield Post reports that the South Downs National Park Authority has joined a “growing clamour” questioning the parliamentary vote to allow fracking in national parks. The SDNPA chief executive, Trevor Beattie, said: ““We are disappointed the vote in Parliament did not support the Government’s clear commitment to ban fracking under national parks, by making it possible to apply for permission to frack under our precious landscape. Landscape is not skin deep. As the regulations approved by the vote only cover what happens below ground, we now await the results of a government consultation on surface development restrictions in national parks, which will determine restrictions on surface drilling.”
29th December 2015
Should we oppose or welcome fracking. Charles Beauchamp, writing in The Daily Mail, describes the government’s approval of fracking under national parks as an “outrageous betrayal.” He said “during the last election we were promised these areas would be full protected. I recall the word ‘sacrosanct’ being used by Cameron – and I voted Tory accordingly.”
28th December 2015
INEOS to look for fracking opportunities in Cheshire and East Midlands. Energy Voice, quoting the Northwich Guardian, reports a number of wells could be drilled in locations across north west England by 2017. It says INEOS has plans for up to four vertical wells across Cheshire and the East Midlands.
From Minehead to Trowbridge – 27 new licences for fracking tests revealed. The Western Daily Press reports on the possibility that large parts of Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire could see fracking for gas. All the blocks are held by the south Wales based South Western Energy.
Politicians and environmental group Friends of the Earth concerned about fracking plans in South Trafford. The Messenger reports on ripples across the borough caused by news that South Trafford could be opened up to fracking. Cllr Ray Bowker, of Trafford Liberal Democrat Group called on all parties in Trafford to re-affirm their opposition to fracking in the borough.
Fracking application is just tip of the iceberg for Ryedale. Russell Scott, responds to Lorraine Allanson’s letter in The Yorkshire Post (see 22/12/15). Mr Scott says Third Energy’s application to frack at Kirby Misperton is “the tip of the iceberg for fracking in Ryedale”. The company’s operation’s director has said it plans to drill and frack up to 950 wells in the area, he says. “It means decades of a potentially irreversible industrialisation process across our beautiful rural areas and market towns.”
Letter: Fracking vote signs the death knell for the Peak District National Park. The Leek Post and Times has a letter from Roger Cannon in which he raises concerns about fracking fluid and the impact of fracking on protected areas, earthquakes and climate change.
The environmental disaster that YOU have never heard of: Shocking thermal video shows ‘unprecedented’ outpouring of methane in Los Angeles that has been spewing out noxious fumes for two months. The Daily Mail reports on the leak from the gas storage site at Ailso Canyon, southern California, which is currently accounting for a quarter of the state’s methane emissions. The site has leaked 110,000 pounds per hour since October. Estimates of the climate damage are equivalent to driving seven million cars a year.
27th December 2015
I’m trapped in my home thanks to the flooding, why can’t anyone admit that this is climate change? Ellie Mae O’Hagan writing in The Independent asks why the media hasn’t attributed flooding at her home to climate change. She said her area could be opened to fracking which will cause the climate to change further.
Lewes Lib Dems slam MP over fracking vote. The Sussex Express reports Lewes Liberal Democrats have criticised the town’s MP for voting in favour of allowing fracking under National Parks. The paper says the Conservative MP maintained her record of always voting with the government since her election in May by voting to allow companies to drill horizontally into protected areas.
Fracking threat closer to home. Jonathan Whittaker, writing in The Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Standard, says if you live anywhere near the border of the Cotswolds Area of Natural Beauty you are under threat from fracking. He says this means places like Cirencester, Fairford, Lechlade, Malmesbury, Moreton-in-the-Marsh, South Cerney, Quenington and the Ampneys. “It is up to us to protect our future and that of our generations to come here in the Cotswolds. We at Frack Free Cotswolds will be setting up a series of informative talks and encourage all concerned to attend.”
26th December 2015
Fracking could follow ‘likely’ INEOS planning bid for well drilling. Northwich Guardian reports that wells could be drilled in a number of locations in Cheshire in 2017 by INEOS to pave the way for possible fracking operations. The company has told Wincham Parish Council, which discusses the issue at its January meeting, it wants to discover if gas can be produced from shale 3-5km below the surface.
Energy firm wins licence for fracking in Warminster. Warminster Wire reports that the town is one of four places in Wiltshire which has licences to allow coal bed methane extraction. The website says this is despite an independent report which found the geology of the area unsuitable for fracking.
24th December 2015
Government proposals to allow oil and gas companies to drill monitoring boreholes without planning permission go before parliament in 2016. DrillOrDrop report
Licence approval for fracking bids in Wiltshire. The Wiltshire Times reports on the licensing of areas around Warminster, Trowbridge, Westbury and Chitterne and Erlestoke for oil and gas exploration.
Letters. Two correspondents to The Blackpool Gazette criticise moves in parliament to promote shale gas. One says: “We have a Government who continue to change the rules to suit their own agenda, making promises they then break, over-riding policies they themselves put in place, and riding roughshod over the very people who put them in office”.
LETTER: Fracking fears for areas surrounding national parks. Cllr Roger Bingham, writing to The Westmorland Gazette, criticises the vote that will allow fracking under national parks. He says his area of Lower Kentdale, is vulnerable because it is between the Lake District and North York Moors national parks.
Fracking ‘unlikely’ in Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks. The Westmorland Gazette also reports comments by a spokesperson for the Lake District national park authority who said the geology of the region was not suitable for fracking. The chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales NPA, David Butterworth, said there was small potential in his area because of the geology.
23rd December 2015
Gas company seeks to bankrupt anti-fracking campaigner. DrillOrDrop report
Upton anti-fracking camp residents believe eviction will take place in next few days. The Chester Chronicle reports campaigners at an anti-fracking camp near Chester expect to be evicted soon. Chester Constabulary has allocated police liaison officers, suggesting bailiffs for IGas will be arriving shortly. Camp resident Phil Whyte tells the paper: “If we get through to the New Year I’ll be surprised.” Text and Facebook alerts will sent around once the bailiffs arrive with a call for supporters to join camp residents in refusing to move from the site, the paper says.
‘Whole point’ of legislation is to protect national parks from fracking claims MP. The Crawley Observer reports comments by Arundel and South Downs MP, Nick Herbert, that the whole point of new rules on fracking was to protect national parks. Speaking to the BBC this week he said: “A huge amount of the concern was that rigs were going to be set up in the national park at the surface, and that drilling was going to go down through the chalk and sensitive water aquifers. None of that will happen because the rigs can’t be set up in the national park.”
Letter: Why fracking meeting doors were closed. Hutton Cranswick parish councillor, Gina Simpson, writing to Driffield Today, defends a meeting with Cuadrilla that was not open to the public.
Huge parts of Greater Manchester targeted for fracking after exploration licences awarded. The Manchester Evening News reports fears by Trafford Green Party of a “reckless dash for gas” after licences approved across Trafford, Rochdale, Salford, south Manchester, Bury, Bolton and Wigan. Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk said he would ‘keep a close eye’ on developments. Tory MP for Altrincham and Sale West, Graham Brady, said shale gas could become an important energy source in the UK, reducing dependence on ‘volatile’ overseas suppliers.
Skipton MP Julian Smith condemned for backing Government on fracking vote. The Craven Herald quotes comments about Mr Smith’s vote in favour of fracking under national parks. Frack Free Craven tells the paper “Mr Smith almost always toes the Government line. It is outrageous behaviour when so many of his constituents are against fracking.” Mr Smith says the focus has to be put on lowering bills for consumers and to do that meant looking at all sources of energy.
New infrared video reveals growing environmental disaster in L.A. gas leak. The Washington Post reports that a gas leak from a storage facility in hills above Los Angeles could become a major ecological disaster, according to officials. More than 150 million pounds of methane has leaked so far and there is no immediate end in sight. New infra-red video shows a plume like smoke from a volcano. The facility is owned by the Southern California Gas Co and is the largest of its kind on the west coast. About 1,700 homes and two schools have been evacuated.
Dangerous levels of toxic chemicals found within Lancashire fracking area. Preston New Road Action Group notes growing concern at recent findings from Aberdeen University about elevated levels of selenium in the Bowland shale fracking licence area. It calls for a moratorium to evaluate risks to human health and safety.
22nd December 2015
MPs demand answers on carbon capture and storage. DrillOrDrop report
Scots scientists find high toxin levels in rocks from fracking target area. The Herald Scotland reports that high levels of a toxic chemical have been found in rock samples taken from an area earmarked for shale gas extraction. A team of University of Aberdeen have found high levels of selenium in Bowland shale. Researchers tell the paper the discovery is significant because of the risk of selenium, which at excessive levels is a threat to human health, being released into groundwater during drilling or fracking. They say care must be taken during extraction to ensure levels are kept to a minimum. STV News report Phys.org report
South Yorkshire fracking objectors set to meet. Hope Valley Transition Group in Derbyshire is to meet on 4th January in the wake of parliament’s vote on fracking under National Parks, writes the Doncaster Free Press.
YP Letters: Impact of fracking in Ryedale is being misrepresented. Lorraine Allanson, writes in The Yorkshire Post in response to a letter by eminent local landowners opposed to fracking. She says: “Some of these very eminent people who committed their names to the letter have swallowed too many of the scare stories perpetuated by the anti-fracking movement.” She says they haven’t read Third Energy’s planning application for Kirby Misperton.
Fracking vote a joke. Joy West, writing to The Daily Echo, says all Dorset MPs, except Christopher Chope, voted in favour of fracking under National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. She said: “These are the same MPs that a few months ago were celebrating Amber Rudd’s decision not to allow the Navitus Offshore Windfarm on the grounds that it would negatively impact on the Jurassic Coast. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.”
21st December 2015
New interactive maps and information on oil and gas licences. DrillOrDrop report
Fracking plans are driving an even more damaging ideological agenda. Paul Mobbs, writing in The Ecologist, says the issuing of oil and gas licences last week detracted media attention from many other government announcements. He also says any opposition, however factually well-founded, is regarded by government as a threat. He says: “Fracking is, based on the available evidence, an unwarranted policy. But the ideological objectives behind these policies is far more significant than the process itself. The reality is that we cannot address one without addressing the other.”
Bath MP Ben Howlett makes fracking U-turn. The Bath Chronicle reports that the MP for Bath voted to back fracking under world heritage sites and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. According to the paper, the MP says he is “in favour of exploratory drilling” despite announcing in January 2015 that he welcomed “additional safeguards the Government’s has now put in to prevent fracking taking place in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”
Druids visit Chester anti-fracking camp to mark mid-winter. The Chester Chronicle reports that members of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids visited Upton Community Protection Camp, off Duttons Lane on Sunday to mark the winter solstice. A deadline for members of the camp to leave under a court order was 4pm on 4th December 2015. But so far bailiffs have not tried to evict them. Local councillor, Matt Bryan, says direct action is now the only to prevent fracking at the site.
20th December 2015
Pro-frackers’ vigil signals shale hopes. The Blackpool Gazette reports on a candle-lit vigil at Blackpool Tower by campaigners who want a shale gas industry in the Fylde region of Lancashire. They said they were highlighting the “loss of Lancashire’s pioneering spirit”, after Lancashire County Council refused planning permission for fracking at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood. The former head of Greenpeace, Stephen Tindale, told the gathering, organised by Backing Fracking, that shale gas could help to tackle climate change.
Ed Miliband aims for cross-party coalition on climate change. The Guardian reports that the former leader has vowed to build a “high-ambition coalition” of UK businesses, trade unions and civic society to challenge what he calls the government’s “backward” environmental policies, including fracking.
The financial argument for ditching fossil fuel investments grows daily. Toni Fagan, of Llanwarne, writing to the Hereford Times argues that the fiscal argument for divesting from fossil fuels grows daily.
US fracking model does not bode well for UK. Dr G Rayner, writing to the FT letters’ page, calls for fracking companies to be required to pay sureties to local authorities and water utilities to cover clean-up costs.
Pro-frackers’ vigil signals shale hopes. The Blackpool Gazette reports on a candle-lit vigil at Blackpool Tower by campaigners who want a shale gas industry in the Fylde region of Lancashire. They said they were highlighting the “loss of Lancashire’s pioneering spirit”, after Lancashire County Council refused planning permission for fracking at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood. The former head of Greenpeace, Stephen Tindale, told the gathering, organised by Backing Fracking, that shale gas could help to tackle climate change.
18th December 2015
Triumphant week for UK fracking but plenty of ‘buts’ remain. DrillOrDrop report
Fracking by numbers: figures from the 14th licensing round. DrillOrDrop report
Crawberry Hill abandonment completed. Rathlin Energy reports that the well abandonment work at its Crawberry Hill site near Beverley has been completed. Site restoration work will begin in the New Year. The company says its security team will remain at the site until all work is finished.
Commercial-scale UK shale gas extraction possible before 2020 – INEOS. ICIS, which reports on the chemical industry, reports comments by Patrick Erwin, commercial director of INEOS Shale, who says it is down to the government to ensure legislation around the sector works smoothly to allow commercial shale gas extraction to happen before the end of the decade. He said: “I think there will need to be more reforms as we move towards large-scale production”.
The five great perils of fracking in Ryedale. Leading local landowners writing The Yorkshire Post identify the threats of fracking as: increased traffic, noise from rigs, long periods of flaring, methane emissions exacerbating climate change and concreted well sites ruining the countryside
From fracking to the bedroom tax: The 7 pieces of bad news the Government tried to bury. The Independent reports on 36 statements released by government departments on the last day of parliament before Christmas. Labour accused the Government of deliberately trying to avoid proper scrutiny and hiding his broken promise to cut the cost of politics by releasing the raft of announcements on the final day of Parliament.
Letters: Fracking deal is breathtaking, cynical and idiotic. Aidan Harrison, writing to The Independent about fracking licences, says “cynicism and idiocy of a government which, just a week after signing up to a green agenda in Paris, turns its back on renewables and then plumps for this filthy, landscape-destroying, economically disastrous option which at best might last a decade, is breathtaking.”
UKOG receives OGA approval for 10% stake in Weald Basin. Energy Voice reports that UK Oil & Gas has received final regulatory consent to acquire a further 10% interest in the Weald Basin licence PEDL143. The deal is via a farm-in with Warwick Energy Exploration and Production Ltd. PEDL143 includes the Bury Hill Wood exploration site, also known as Holmwood-1, which is due to be drilled next winter. PEDL 143 is immediately west of the Horse Hill licence PEDL 137, in which UKOG has a 20.1% interest.
How we use our energy has changed forever – but fracking is not on agenda. Alex White, writing in The Ireland Independent reports on the Irish government’s role in the Paris climate change agreement. Under the deal, Ireland’s energy-related carbon emissions will be cut by 80-90% by 2050 based on 1990 levels. The Irish Environmental Protection Agency is examining the environmental and health impacts of fracking. Alex White says: “Even if it is found to be safe, I find it hard to envisage a policy decision to introduce fracking, given that we are going for a low-carbon energy system in which oil and gas are gradually curtailed and, in the longer term, eliminated.”
Billionaire chemicals boss takes lead role in fracking. The Times reports on Jim Ratcliffe, founder of INEOS, who acquired 21 of the 93 licences, covering 38 of the 159 blocks.
New Yorkers Celebrate One-Year Anniversary of Fracking Ban. EcoWatch reports on the one-year anniversary of the ban on high volume hydraulic fracturing in New York.
17th December 2015
Breaking: New oil and gas licences confirmed. DrillOrDrop report
Breaking: INEOS oil and gas licences now cover 1 million acres. DrillOrDrop report
Who’s got an oil and gas licence in your area? DrillOrDrop report
New oil and gas licences: What opponents said? DrillOrDrop report
New oil and gas licences: What the industry said? DrillOrDrop report
How MPs voted in yesterday’s fracking ballot. DrillorDrop report
Find out how you MP voted in the fracking ballot – searchable spreadsheet. DrillOrDrop report
Other press reports on new oil and gas licences:
Daily Telegraph (Fracking: plans to drill 68 new shale gas wells unveiled – 17/12/15); FT (Dozens of new UK fracking licences awarded – 17/12/15); The Guardian (UK government hands out new fracking licences- 17/12/15); Daily Mail (Green light given for exploration of ‘significant’ swathe of shale prospects – 17/12/15), Doncaster Free Press (Concerns as fracking moves closer for Doncaster – 19/12/15); Greenpeace Energy Desk (New fracking licences offered in national parks – 17/12/15); Mansfield Chad (Fracking moves one step closer to Sherwood Forest and Clumber Park – 17/12/15); Leyland Guardian (Fears over fracking licence ‘boom’ – 18/12/15); Stroud News (Fracking could be on its way to Sharpness as Government offers drilling licence to energy firm – 18/12/15); Barnsley Chronicle (Fracking set to come to Barnsley – 18/12/15); Cheddar Valley Gazette (MP says Mendip hills safe from fracking because there is ‘nothing to frack’ – 19/12/15); The York Press (Provisional fracking licences include land under York – 19/12/15); The Southport Visitor (Fracking exploration to take place across Southport, Formby and West Lancashire – 19/12/15); Nantwich News (Fracking licences covering Nantwich and South Cheshire awarded by Government – 18/12/15); Chichester Observer (New ‘fracking’ fears as latest drilling licences include South Downs National Park – 18/12/15); Bristol Post (Fracking licences handed out for gas drilling near Clevedon and Weston-Super-Mare – 17/12/15); The Bolton News (Politicians concerned about fracking plans across Bolton – 18/12/15); Hartlepool Mail (Fears as firm explores fracking potential under Teesside – 18/12/15); Salford Star (New Salford fracking licence means most of the city up for drilling – 19/12/15); Scottish Energy News (Three Aberdeen-based developers join Maersk, Total and Cuadrilla in shale-gas ‘gold rush’ in England); The Northern Echo (North Yorkshire and Teesside opened up for oil and gas exploration following Government’s ‘fracking’ decision – 18/12/15); Sheffield Telegraph (Environmentalists hit out over plans for fracking in Barnsley – 21/12/15); Utility Week (Government furthers fracking drive with new shale licences – 21/12/15); Ledbury Reporter (Fracking licences approved for parts of Herefordshire – 21/12/15); The Star (Environmentalists hit out over plans for fracking in Barnsley – 21/12/15)
Fracking adversaries gear up for the next round. BBC News carries a feature which predicts civil unrest if fracking goes ahead. Professor Paul Stevens, of Chatham House, tells the website: “The vehemence felt is so strong it would be virtually impossible to carry out sensible operations.” John Williams, at Poyry Management Consulting says: “There is no interest in market forecasting as so many believe it is not going to happen”.
Fuel of the future. Representatives of six industry groups, including UK Onshore Oil and Gas, write to The Telegraph saying gas is vital for heating, power and as a raw material. It also supports the transition to a green economy. “We must recognise the need for a secure, affordable and – crucially – British source of gas”, they say.
Shale drillers are now free to export US oil into global glut. Bloomberg Business reports on a deal in the US congress to list the 1970s ban on shipping crude overseas. It has the potential to unleash a flood of oil from Texas and North Dakota shale markets into markets already flush with cheap supplies from the Gulf, Russia and Africa, the website says.
Solo eyes Isle of Wight shale plays after winning licence. Energy Voice reports Solo Oil has said it will look at conventional oil and unconventional shale plays on the Isle of Wight after winning 30% of an onshore licence.
Anti-fracking campaigners deliver hundreds of letters to Nottinghamshire County Council. ITV reports that campaigners opposed to an application by IGas for shale gas exploration in north Nottinghamshire have delivered hundreds of letters to the council’s planning department.
New petition launch pledging non-violent direct action against unconventional energy. Link to petition on change.org
16th December 2015
Breaking: MPs back fracking under national parks. DrillOrDrop report
Labour calls for moratorium after fracking vote. DrillOrDrop report
MPs Fracking vote: who said they voted against? DrillOrDrop report
Other press reports on vote to allow fracking under national parks:
Brighton Argus (Campaigners furious MPs backed fracking plans which could damage national parks17/12/15); Bromsgrove Standard (Worcestershire Greens slam fracking decision as MPs are divided – 19/12/15); Spire FM (Concern over decision to allow fracking in the New Forest – 17/12/15); Isle of Wight County Press (Fracking possible at Isle of Wight beauty spots after MPs vote – 17/12/15); Rigzone (UK Onshore Industry Welcomes National Park Fracking Plans – 17/12/15); The Cumberland News (MP calls fracking under national parks a disgrace – 18/12/15); Matlock Mercury (Pressure mounts over Peak District gas drilling – 18/12/15); The Llanelli Star (Llanelli MP Nia Griffith slams ‘weakening of fracking regulations’ as she votes against move – 18/12/15); Dorset Echo (MPs approve plans to allow fracking in beauty spots – 17/12/15); Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard (MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown helps relax rules on fracking in the Cotswolds – 18/12/15); Berwick Advertiser (MP backs fracking in vote – 21/12/15); Salisbury Journal (Fracking under Salisbury Plain a step closer after commons vote -21/12/15); Daily Echo (MP Simon Hoare accused of “betraying” voters after fracking U-turn – 22/12/15); Tewkesbury Admag (Fracking threat to the Cotswolds following House of Commons vote on relaxing drilling rules – 21/12/15); The Guardian, The Independent, The Mirror, BBC News, ITV News, Mid Sussex Times, The Northern Echo, Blue and Green Tomorrow, Surrey Hills AONB, DeSmogUK
14th round drilling licences expected this week The BBC’s Jon Moylan tells the Today Programme the government will announce later this week the results of the second tranche of oil and gas licences in the 14th round.
MPs set to vote on fracking under national parks. The draft regulations on allowing fracking under but not from the surface of parks are likely to be approved in a ballot vote today. Shadow Energy Secretary Lisa Nandy has accused ministers of using a “parliamentary backdoor” to try to approve the “weak regulations” without debate. BBC News, Politics Home, Liberal Voice
Almost half of firms awarded blocks in 14th round overseas owned or based abroad. An analysis by Greenpeace Energy Desk reveals that for 22 of the 27 licence blocks awarded in August, the firm that led the bid or its partners have majority foreign ownership or are based outside the UK. Cuadrilla Resources, Cirque Energy, GDF, Hutton Energy and Ineos – which were awarded 12 (44%) of the blocks – are majority overseas owned or based overseas.
Revealed: Cuadrilla and leading fracking firms’ tax haven ownership. Greenpeace Energy Desk also reports that Cuadrilla is majority owned by entities based in offshore tax havens. 45% of Cuadrilla is held by Riverstone Holdings through a Cayman Islands-based investment fund. 45% is held by the Australian company, A J Lucas, which is 50% owned by Kerogen Capital registered in the Caymans.
Bassetlaw District Council no objection to Misson shale plans. Bassetlaw District Council’s planning committee accepts the recommendation of officers and does not object to IGas’s plans for exploratory shale drilling at Misson in north Nottinghamshire. The decision on the planning application will be made by Nottinghamshire County Council.
Anger at ‘sham’ fracking report. The Lancashire Evening Post reports that campaigners have criticised the fourth Task Force on Shale Gas report led by Lord Chris Smith which urges fracking to start providing that safeguards are in place. Roseacre Awareness Group (RAG) member Barbara Richardson has called the report a “sham set up to fool the general public.”
Fracking just caused another earthquake… as our MPs debate UK sites. Metro reports on a 4.6 magnitude quake that hit Oklahoma in August was the largest ever linked to fracking. Details emerged as UK MPs prepare to vote on allowing fracking under national parks.
Shale gas drill test is off in Llantrithyd after land is sold. The Barry GEM reports Coastal Oil and Gas have abandoned plans to drill in a field in the village in Vale of Glamorgan after it was bought by a villager opposed to drilling. The previous owner gave the company permission for exploratory drilling and planning consent was granted in 2013. Sian-Elin Jones, chair of Llantrithyd Residents’ Association, said: “We are absolutely delighted, it’s a huge relief. “We’ve worked hard for this and we deserve to celebrate, but our work is not over yet. This is just one field and if fracking gets the go-ahead in Wales, then it could be back again one day. We’ll carry on pushing for a full fracking ban in Wales.” Two other proposed drilling sites, one at Llantrisant, have been abandoned after landowners withdrew permission.
15th December 2015
Industry and government welcome Task Force on Shale Gas report but environmental campaigners say government needs to stop fracking to tackle climate change DrillOrDrop report
Bassetlaw planners recommend no objection to shale gas plan – but opponents say scheme is flawed. DrillOrDrop report
The role of gas in UK’s energy future. Professor John Loughhead, chief scientific advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, writes in a DECC blog, says “we will need gas in the short to medium term”. He says shale gas has the potential to reduce UK on imported gas. He says reports conclude that the risks of extracting shale gas can be managed safely through regulation.
What does the Paris climate change agreement mean for UK energy? Greenpeace Energy Desk says the UK might have to meet tougher goals and carbon emissions. And fossil fuel companies might not fare as well as renewables in the wake of the Paris talks.
Opinion: Fracking undefendable after Paris climate talks. Energy Voice carries an opinion piece by Dr Philip L Staddon, Associate Professor in Global Change Ecology at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University. He writes: “The dangers posed by “greenwashing” shale gas as a route to climate change mitigation, are obvious. Shale gas represents an additional source of fossil fuel emissions will delay the transition to renewable and low carbon energy sources.”
Government deletes statement supporting underground coal gasification. The Ferret, in the latest of its investigative reports on fracking in Scotland, reports that the Scottish Government has deleted a statement backing plans for UCG from its website 10 months after it announced a moratorium on fracking. The deletion followed a complaint from environmental campaigner, Geraldine Ring. The statement said “Alternative mining technologies, such as underground coal gasification, are attracting interest both globally and from a number of developers in Scotland. The Scottish Government are supportive of such innovative technologies which offer the potential for a secure, economic and low carbon energy store.” The Scottish Government said the statement had been removed due to its “historic nature”.
14th December 2015
Fracking Week in Westminster – w/e 11th December. DrillOrDrop report
Fracking no longer viable, says government advisor. The investigative website, The Ferret, reports comments by Professor Paul Younger, who says fracking has been “fatally undermined” following the cancellation of a £1bn competition for carbon capture and storage. He said: “I have always said that unconventional gas should only be considered an option provided we are making serious moves towards full-scale CCS. Given the announcement my position is that the ethical platform for any perpetuation of fossil fuel use in the UK (or by others on our behalf) has been fatally undermined.” Also covered by The Times
Fracking Brings Steep Drops in Home Values in Some Neighborhoods, But Not All. Duke Today, the website for news from the US Duke University, says new research finds home values decline steeply when fracking occurs in neighbourhoods that use well water. But the outcome differs in neighbourhoods that rely on piped water, where home values rise slightly. A paper about the research appears online in the American Economic Review.
Paris climate change deal too weak to help poor, critics warn. The Guardian reports criticism by Richard Chatterton, of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, who says “The deal reached in Paris is weak, containing no concrete increase in the level of ambition to address climate change, and simply urges countries to do more over time.” He said the most notable outcome was the mechanism for five-yearly reviews of carbon targets, and agreement on the principle that countries should provide transparent accounts of how they reach those goals. But even these were “accompanied by language that could allow countries to maintain the status quo for years to come”.
No changes needed to meet climate goals. The FT reports UK government privately believes it will not need to make any changes to policy as a result of commitments at the Paris climate conference. Coal and oil industry figures also believe the deal will have no immediate impact on their businesses, the paper says.
Natural Gas Sinks to 14-Year Low. The Wall Street Journal said US gas prices plunged to a 14-year low, as the warmest start to winter on record in the U.S. saps demand for the heating fuel and deals another blow to struggling energy companies.
‘Fracking DOES cause earthquakes’: Gas firms ‘created world’s worst tremor zone’. The Express reports there have been 2,100 earthquakes with magnitude 1.5 or greater in 2015 in Oklahoma. The latest on Saturday was 3.5 magnitude, disturbing residents. Barbara Vanhanken, chairwoman of the Oklahoma chapter, tells the paper: “I am angry and offended that the oil and gas industry has been so slow to protect Oklahoma and its citizens in the face of this earthquake crisis.”
Raging ‘peace officer’ frothing at the mouth charged at police in anti-fracking protest. The Grimsby Telegraph reports on evidence at the trial of an anti-fracking protester. Stephen Whiteley, accused of obstructing the highway at a test drilling site near Immingham, was described as “growling like a “wild animal” and “foaming and frothing at the mouth” during frightening and noisy confrontations with the police. He was convicted after a trial at Grimsby Magistrates Court. He was fined £300 and ordered to pay £250 costs and a £20 victims’ surcharge.
Anti-fracking protest judge accused of bias. The Grimsby Telegraph reports on what it called tense and unpleasant scenes during the protester trial when the defence advocate accused the deputy district judge of “bias” – and he branded her “impertinent”. Helen White, representing anti-fracking protester, Stephen Whiteley, tried to get the trial halted and the judge disqualified because of the way she claimed the defence was being treated. The judge refused.
Energy industry worried EPA could reverse fracking study to show water harm. The Washington Examiner reports the oil and gas industry fears the US Environmental Protection Agency may issue a new report that says fracking contaminates US water supplies. The EPA is finalising its draft report on the effects of fracking on water supplies. The Independent Petroleum Association of America sent a letter Monday to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy pressing her not to go with a finding that fossil fuel production from shale poses systemic risks to the nation’s water supply.
13th December 2015
Green Investment Bank sell-off plans alarm MPs and peers. The Guardian reports on comments by MPs that a privatised Green Investment Bank wouldn’t be obliged to fund eco-friendly projects and could invest in fracking. The bank’s executive director, Richard Callard, asked by the Commons environmental audit committee if it could invest in fracking, replied “Technically it could. It is a question of whether it would”.
COP21 climate change deal a ‘huge step, says David Cameron. The BBC reports on reaction to the deal approved by 195 countries at the climate summit in Paris. David Cameron described it as “a huge step forward in securing the future of the planet”. Campaigners said it fell short of such “soaring rhetoric”. Friends of the Earth chief executive Craig Bennett, said it showed fossil fuels had had their day and Mr Cameron must “end Britain’s scandalous support for fossil fuels, including fracking”.
Areas at Risk from Frack Sand Mining in the UK. Frack Off reports on locations identified suitable for extracting fracking sand, including in Norfolk where a consultation concludes on 21st December.
12th December 2015
Scotland’s environmental regulator “colluded with UK government” over fracking. The Herald Scotland reports on documents released under an FOI request which showed the Scottish Environment Protection Agency participated regularly in Whitehall meetings to co-ordinate communication strategies around unconventional oil and gas. Labour MSP Neil Findlay said the revelations raised “very serious questions”. He said: “I understand that SEPA would want to be prepared whatever the decision made on fracking but these documents show how they are working hand in glove with the UK Government and are currently going way beyond simply understanding the issue of fracking and its consequences.” SEPA said it remained neutral on the issue.
Time for some clarity on fracking. The Herald Scotland, in an opinion column, calls on the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to make more openness about fracking high on her list of New Year resolutions. It refers to news that the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, had been working closely with Westminster’s pro-fracking Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Councillor hits out at ‘pro-fracking agenda’. The Kirkintilloch Herald reports comments by North Lanarkshire Green Councillor, Frances McGlinchey, who says a pro-fracking agenda is being pushed at leading figures in the Scottish government by companies. She calls on local people to demonstrate their opposition to unconventional drilling by joining an anti-fracking group.
11th December 2015
North Yorkshire County Council, which will decide Third Energy’s fracking planning application, defends pension investments in fossil fuels. DrillOrDrop report Reports by The York Press (13/12/15) and The Northern Echo (12/12/15)
COP21: Experts baffled by climate change wording. The FT reports confusion at the Paris climate accord on the definition of “greenhouse gas emissions neutrality”, which according to a new draft governments aim to meet by the second half of the century. The draft says governments should stick to a previously agreed goal to keep warming below 2C from pre-industrial times and “pursue efforts” to stop temperatures rising more than 1.5C. To meet the goal, earlier drafts had called for cuts of greenhouse gas emissions of 40% by 2050. The new version of the draft agreement says countries should try to ensure their emissions peak as soon as possible and then fall rapidly to reach greenhouse gas emissions neutrality.
Fossil free Scotland. Friends of the Earth Scotland launches a campaign, which it says will seek to stop permanently fracking and unconventional fossil fuel extraction, promote renewable energy and divest public pension money from fossil fuels.
Second Capacity Market auction successfully concluded. The Department of Energy and Climate Change reports that the auction secured 46.354GW of capacity for 2019-2020 at a price of £18/kw, £1/kw cheaper than last year.
Polluting diesel and coal plants snap up millions in consumer-funded subsidies. Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist, Doug Parr, responds to the results of the capacity auction. In a press release, he says: “”The energy secretary is in the thick of crucial climate talks in Paris yet her department has just lavished million-pound subsidies on some the dirtiest energy sources on the planet. With the exception of the coal phase-out, the gap between what this government preaches and what it actually does on climate and energy keeps getting wider and wider. A 21st-century advanced economy like Britain shouldn’t have to rely on pop-up diesel farms and moribund coal plants to keep the light on.”
Second capacity market favours carbon-intensive generation. ENDS reports that ageing fossil fuel generators have once again taken the largest share of contracts on offer as part of DECC’s capacity market auction, with critics suggesting the mechanism is blocking the decarbonisation of UK electricity. Preliminary results from the National Grid show gas turbine generation took 52%, coal fired plant, including a small proportion of biomass, took 10%.
Tributes paid to anti-fracking campaigner Darren MacFarlane. The Leader reports that North Wales police have confirmed that a body found in the River Dee was anti-fracking campaigner, Darren James MacFralane from Buckley. He’d been missing since November. Friends paid tribute to his contribution to campaigns against fracking near Chester and Wrexham.
Earthquakes tracked by state authorities and public with new tech. The Hydraulic Fracking blog reports on an increasing trend for earthquake monitoring through social media. The US Geological Service tracks quakes through user-generated reports on its Did You Feel It site.
Look at it this way. An opinion column in the Blackpool Gazette criticises government response to northern flooding and fracking.
Fracking will cause problems. Malcolm Hara, writing a letter in the Beverley Guardian says “Everywhere in the world where fracking has taken place it has caused major health problems for the local community. Drilling through the aquifer which supplies the whole of the East Riding risks polluting our drinking water with toxic cancer-causing chemicals.”
No fracking way: Greenwich Pantomime 2015 and Little Red Riding Hood like you’ve never seen it before. The News Shopper reports that Greenwich Panto features an evil environmental villain Count Fracula, who wants to destroy Granny Fanny’s woods to drill for shale gas.
10th December 2015
Tory MPs call for a ban on fracking in ancient woodlands. DrillOrDrop report
Lord Lawson’s climate think-tank under review after adviser offers to write paper for sham oil company. The Independent reports the Charity Commission is investigating a range of “potential concerns” about the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Environmentalists have complained that GWPF is a campaigning, not educational, organisation. One of GWPF’s advisers was revealed in an undercover sting by Greenpeace to have offered to write an academic paper casting doubt on global warming on behalf of a sham oil company.
Centrica shares rise as lower costs keep profits on track. The FT reports shares in Centrica, which owns British Gas and is a partner of Cuadrilla in the UK, rose more than 4 per after the company said it was on track to meet earnings expectations for the year despite tumbling energy prices.
ConocoPhillips cuts spending to half of 2014 level. The FT reports ConocoPhillips, one of the largest oil and gas producers in the US, has announced another sharp cut to its capital spending. The capital budget for 2016 is $7.7bn, down 25 per cent from this year and less than half the amount it spent in 2014, theft says.
Fracking cannot be reconciled with climate change mitigation policies. Environmental scientists, Philip Staddon and Michael Depledge, writing an opinion piece in Environmental Science & Technology, say shale gas is incompatible with climate change mitigation. “Expanding the volumes of extractable fossil fuels reserves, in whatever form, is irreconcilable with commitments to reducing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon-neutral and low carbon energy alternatives are available and must be further developed to limit the “need” for fossil fuels in a sustainable future”, they say. World Coal report
Carbon levy mooted for big fossil fuel firms. Climate News Network reports that 90 fossil fuel companies are responsible for 63% of human-caused CO2 emissions. They include Chevron, ExxonMobil, Saudi Aramco, BP, Gazprom and Shell. The Climate Justice Programme and the Heinrich Boell Foundation are urging that producers should pay a carbon levy on all fossil fuel extraction and mining, with the proceeds going to help pay poorer countries for adapting to climate change and meeting the costs of its impacts.
Victory for East Kent against fracking. Rosie Rechter, chair of East Kent Against Fracking, tells Talk Fracking the campaign by her organisation signalled to fracking companies that it was an undesirable location.
Don’t be down, the fight still goes on. Rowland Taylor, in a letter to the Blackpool Gazette, says opponents of fracking in the Fylde area of Lancashire were always aware the government could made the final decision on Cuadrilla’s appeal. He says: “We must not get downhearted; we must continue the fight and fight even harder now.”
Wirral West MP challenges government ministers on Underground Coal Gasification. The Wirral Globe reports that at a meeting of the Environmental Audit Committee, MP Margaret Greenwood questioned the government’s policy on underground coal gasification. She tells the paper: “The Energy Secretary said in November that coal is the most carbon intensive fossil fuel, damages air quality and is simply not sustainable in the longer term. So if the Government is proposing to end burning coal in coal-fired stations above ground, why is burning it underground acceptable?”
We need to act now on climate change. Alan Johnson, of the Green Party, tells The Bolton News the government’s focus on fracking for shale gas comes at the expense of investment in solar, wind and wave power, coupled with energy efficiency.
Fury at Fylde frack sign ‘theft’. The Blackpool Gazette reports that villagers in Roseacre in the Fylde are furious that anti-fracking signs have been removed from outside homes. Police have confirmed they are investigating the incident which is thought to have occurred at 2am on Monday. Parish councillor Jacqueline Sylvestor said: “These signs were all hand-made and have become quite a feature of the village. I heard a banging noise at around 2am on Monday morning and a vehicle pulling away outside my home. It has to be someone with a vested interest to bother. It is very intimidating.” Lancashire Evening Post report
9th December 2015
INEOS faces safety crackdown to prevent ‘multiple fatalities’. The investigative news site, The Ferret reports that a document released under an FOU request reveals that the Health and Safety Executive launched a legal action requiring INEOS to identify “safety critical tasks” that were necessary to prevent a “major accident hazard” at its ethylene cracker plant at Grangemouth. One hazard was described as “a leak or rupture from the top of the propylene tower with the potential for a fireball or vapour cloud explosion which could give rise to multiple on-site fatalities”. The company has been given until the end of April 2016 to comply. Also published by The Times
UK rushes through large power plant pollution derogation. ENDS reports on a new set of regulations that will allow the UK’s most polluting power plants to delay compliance with the Industrial Emissions Directive for up to four years. The new regulations, laid before parliament on 4th December, insert a derogation from the IED into domestic law. This gives some of the largest and most polluting plants extra time to upgrade their emission abatement systems.
Mild winter sends shiver through US gas market. The Times reports US gas prices have fallen to their lowest point in 17 years as an unusually warm start to winter exacerbates a widening supply glut. The cost of wholesale gas for delivery in January 2016 stands at only $2 per million British thermal units — 48 per cent below the level of a year ago and the lowest for any January contract since 1998.
Colorado’s fracking battle goes before state Supreme Court. Mail Online reports two cases go before Colorado’s Supreme Court today: a ban on fracking in Longmont and a five-year moratorium in Fort Collins. The oil and gas industry sued both cities and won in the lower courts.
State attorney general sues Chesapeake Energy over gas royalties. PowerSource reports that Pennsylvania’s Attorney General office is suing the oil company and three of its affiliates for allegedly underpaying at least 4,000 landowners tens of millions of dollars in royalties from natural gas operations. The company allegedly deducted over-inflated post-production costs on to the landowners. It has been accused of similar tactics in lawsuits in several other states.
‘Leni-Maths’ joke gets legal eagles in a flap. The Evening Standard reports David Lenigas, former chair of UK Oil & Gas, has made a legal complaint against John Meyer, of broker SP Angel. He made a joke in a note to clients about “Leni-Maths”, referring to the estimates of 100 billion barrels of oil in the Weald. (Bottom story on Evening Standard business webpage).
Letter: Fracking regulations based on UK’s ‘exemplary’ track record. In a letter to the Malton Mercury, Lorraine Allanson, of Friends of Ryedale Gas Exploration, accuses Frack Free Ryedale of spreading scare stories about regulation of the onshore oil and gas industry. She says the industry’s track record stands up to scrutiny.
8th December 2015
Residents to make formal complaint over how Swansea Council approved planning application for coal bed methane exploration. DrillOrDrop report
Fracking could cut house prices 10% say experts. The Ferret reports that seven of the eight property experts it surveyed said fracking would have a negative impact on house prices. John Rafferty, of Kelvin Valley Properties in Scotland’s central belt, predict a fall of up to 10% and not much less than 7% in any area where fracking gets the go ahead. 10% was also predicted by Alyson Lowe, of Alexander Taylor, based in Bonnybridge, near Falkirk. Charlie Bennett suggested rents could rise to accommodate an influx of industry workers.
Oil benchmark falls below $40 a barrel. The FT reports Brent crude breached the $40 a barrel mark on Tuesday for the first time in more than six years as traders see no end in sight for the oil oversupply. The global benchmark dropped 92 cents to $39.81 a barrel in afternoon trading, before recovering to $40.57. The US marker, West Texas Intermediate, declined $1.01 to $36.64 a barrel. It later rebounded to $37.90.
Fracking (Measurement and Regulations of Impacts) (Air, Water and Greenhouse Gas Emissions) Bill presented to the House of Commons. The Bill, presented by Labour’s Geraint Davies (Swansea West). Hansard reference
Exposed: Academics-for-hire agree not to disclose fossil fuel funding. Greenpeace Energy Desk reports on its undercover investigation which it says exposed how fossil fuel companies can secretly pay academics at leading US universities to write research that sows doubt about climate science and promotes the companies’ interests.
Britain can’t preach on climate change while it dismantles its green economy. John Ashton, former climate change diplomat, writing in The Guardian, says David Cameron’s call for action at the Paris summit rings hollow when every step he’s taken on low-carbon energy has been backwards. He writes: “No country has done more than Britain to spur global progress on climate. We have done that by walking our talk, with strong diplomacy based on a strong domestic base. It would be a tragedy and a betrayal of our national interest if, just as our competitors pick up the pace, we start giving succour to those nations and industries that want to slow down an endeavour on whose success all our destinies depend.”
We can do so much better than gas. Writing to The Mid Sussex Times, John Butcher, of Balcombe, questions why the government wants to switch electricity generation to gas. Pushing shale gas extraction is “increasingly insane for economic and environmental reasons”, he says. He adds: UK fossil fuels industry already receive £5.9bn government financial assistance compared to just £3.5bn for renewables. The gap will widen in 2016 when wind farm subsidies are cut, feed in tariff rates are reduced and new tax breaks for the North Sea gas industry costing £1.7bn over five years are introduced.”
Capacity market auction opens today. The Department of Energy and Climate Change announces the opening of the second electricity generating capacity market auction which covers the period 2019-2020. The government says the capacity market auction helps to bring down costs and ensure there is enough electricity generating power. It is seeking to procure 44.7GW of electricity.
Heavily polluting ‘diesel farms’ to make millions from subsidies, IPPR warns. The Guardian reports on a study by the Institute for Public Policy Research which says owners of “diesel farms” stand to make millions if they succeed with bids in the annual capacity market auction (see above). The study says they could be awarded subsidies of up to £435m, up from £109m last year. The IPPR says this could trigger “a rapid proliferation” of diesel electricity generating installations. It said diesel generation, described as the most polluting form of electricity generation, would hamper emission reductions and threaten energy security by undermining investment in clean technology.
Gayzer Frackman ends Downing Street anti-fracking hunger strike. He delivered documents to the Prime Minister and Chancellor on 7th December 2015 on what he said were the health risks of fracking. Video and report in The Blackpool Gazette
7th December 2015
Firms target more of central Scotland for fracking. The investigative website, The Ferret, reports that nine companies have bid for rights to start fracking 1,900 sq km of Scotland, despite the current moratorium on the practice. The licences, offered under the 14th licensing round, are centred on Glasgow and Edinburgh, the website says. It will be up to the Scottish government to decide whether or not to award them. The details emerged in response to an FOI request by The Ferret to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. It said nine companies applied for a total 19 blocks. Report by The Guardian
Energy stocks drag down TFTSE 100. The BBC reports the 100 share index fell 14.77 points to 6,223 following losses in oil companies on the OPEC decision not to reduce production. Shell shares were down 4% and BP 3.3%.
OPEC bid to kill off US shale sends oil price down to 2009 low. The Guardian reports that oil prices fell $2 a barrel (5%) after the latest attempt by Saudi Arabia to kill off the threat from the US shale industry sent crude to its lowest level since the depths of the global recession almost seven years ago.
Oil price crash starting to “bite”, says EY. Energy Voice reports on analysis by EY which says growth in the economy of north east Scotland is set to hit reverse as the effects of the falling oil price start to bite.
Oil price slides after OPEC fails to agree production cuts. The Guardian reports live on the falling oil price, to below $40 a barrel after the OPEC meeting. But it says there’s no guarantee the US shale oil industry will throw in the towel even if prices keep falling. It quotes the Wall Street Journal which says US oil production could increase in 2016
Oil, gas prices likely to continue downward trend in 2016. Natural Gas Europe reports that Total and Goldman Sachs don’t see oil prices recovering in 2016. Total’s CEO Patrick Pouyanne says he expects supply to grow faster than demand.
New oil and gas regulator could encourage breaches of competition law, says CMA. Natural Gas Europe reports on a letter from the Competition Markets Authority to Amber Rudd which says government plans to establish the Oil and Gas Authority might backlash. The CMA’s CEO, Alex Chisholm, says the OGA might risk competition and the effective functioning of markets.
Bath is ‘safe from fracking’ as there is no shale gas to extract. The Bath Chronicle reports comments by local MP Ben Howlett. He says he’s been assured by the DECC minister, Andrea Leadsom, that Bath and outlying areas including the Mendips are not “shale prospective areas”. He says he’s “absolutely delighted” that the area does not have frackable shale gas. Somerset Guardian report
Paris panels to explore international movement to ban fracking. The Centre for Biological Diversity reports that two panel discussions at the Paris Climate Conference on Wednesday (9th December) will explore the movement proposing a ban on fracking and extreme fossil fuel extraction.
Delay over fracking policy is “irresponsible” – council told. WarringtonWorldwide.co.uk reports that on a meeting of Warrington Borough Council’s task force on fracking. Liberal Democrat councillor Brian Axcell, says the borough needs to form a view on applications for fracking urgently. “The delay of almost four and a half months in getting the Task Group to start its work is irresponsible”, he says.
Further tests to be conducted on oil found beneath Horse Hill. The Surrey Mirror reports on the Environment Agency permit granted to the Horse Hill site near Gatwick Airport for flow testing. See DrillOrDrop report from 2/12/15
Can IGAS Energy PLC’s Tomorrow be Different? The stock just broke its all-time low, reports FinancialMagazin, which says stock in IGas reached an all-time low. Shares closed on Friday 4th December at 16.50p.
Can you convince people that the risks of fracking are worth it? Jo Hawkins, a researcher on fracking regulations, tells The Conversation, we shouldn’t assume that the adverse public reaction to the shale gas industry is just an emotional response. She says: “While science tends to separate out technical risks and provide information on them, many of the concerns present among local people stem from wider social concerns. These include worries over monitoring and enforcement, a lack of trust in the shale gas industry and associated regulators. If the information aimed at educating the public simply dismisses these concerns, it fails to fully address the risks that are shaping public perceptions and so will have little impact.”
6th December 2015
Ministers must think long and hard about new fossil fuel frontier. A leader in The Herald Scotland refers to a report by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency which it says outlines risks from underground coal gasification, including pollution, earthquakes, underground explosions and uncontrollable fires. The paper asks: “if extracting coal gas from under the sea creates more climate pollution than natural gas, is it responsible to even begin? As the world wrestles with how to slow global warming at the summit in Paris, does Scotland really want to be opening up a new fossil fuel frontier?”
COP 21 London to Paris bike ride stops outside the entrance to Cuadrilla’s drilling site at Balcombe. Video by Jono Huston
5th December 2015
Vivienne Westwood returns to Upton Protection Camp as eviction threat looms. The Chester Chronicle reports that Dame Vivienne made a third visit to the Duttons Lane site as the deadline for eviction passed. She urged anti-fracking protesters to “fight every battle” to prevent drilling for coal bed methane by IGas at the site. The company, granted an eviction notice in the High Court, can legally remove people from the site but protesters have resolved to stand their ground. IGas’ planning permission for the site runs out in May 2016.
Bill Jamieson: We can’t ignore oil price collapse. Writing in The Scotsman, Bill Jamieson says if the oil price stays below $50 a barrel for any prolonged period, the outlook for the North Sea does not look good. He calls on the Scottish government to lift what he describes as “its crackpot moratorium” on shale development.
4th December 2015
How many wells does Third Energy want to frack at Kirby Misperton? 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. DrillOrDrop report
Don’t bother protesting at the Paris climate change conference – there are better ways to tackle global warming. Writing in the Voices column of The Independent, authors Alex Williams and Nick Srnieck say one of three effective ways to fight climate change would be to stop building new fossil fuel based infrastructure. “This means resisting the construction of new oil wells, new pipelines, and new fracking projects”, they say. Activists need to be skilled in training blockaders and maintaining blockades, they say, as much as media work.
Frack Free Sussex to welcome climate change protesters to Balcombe. The Mid Sussex Times reports members of Frack Free Sussex will be among those who will be welcoming 120 riders on an epic journey from London to international climate talks in Paris on Sunday. The Frack Free Sussex group will be at Lower Stumble Woods, London Road, Balcombe – site of energy firm Cuadrilla’s exploratory oil well. Report in The Argus
U.S. shale oil producers pummelled after OPEC decision. Reuters reports shares in US crude producers fell on fears that low oil prices will persist for years after OPEC failed to agree a unified output cap. OPEC ministers, who control a third of the world’s oil supply, ended their meeting in Vienna in effect letting its 13 members pump at will under a policy aimed in part at squeezing out US rivals.
3rd December 2015
Anti-fracking hunger striker calls for meeting with Prime Minister. Gayzer Frackman on hunger strike opposite Downing Street hopes to put his case to the highest levels of government on Monday at noon. He has permission to deliver information to the prime minister and chancellor. But he is also calling on David Cameron to meet him. DrillOrDrop report
Secret trade talks could weaken climate targets set in Paris, warn campaigners. The Guardian reports on a draft chapter of the Trade in Services Agreement, being discussed at talks in Geneva, which anti-poverty campaigners warn could outlaw subsidies for renewable energy, undermining climate discussions in Paris aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
LETTER: Fracking would be a disaster. John Burns, in a letter to the West Sussex County Times, writes: “If gas fracking operations in the South East of England are approved, Government Ministers and MPs should be held responsible and legally culpable for the rape of the environment and its precious life supporting water supplies.”
Cameron’s real climate policy: promise the sky, frack the Earth. Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, writing in The Ecologist, says David Cameron should be leaving fossil fuels in the ground to prevent unliveable climate change. Instead he has created a legally binding obligation on regulators and drillers to maximise the oil and gas recovery in the North Sea and overruled local councils in England to turn down planning applications to frack for gas. She also refers to the impending eviction of the Upton protection camp on a site earmarked for coal bed methane exploration. The site is within 2km of 3,000+ people.
Criminal courts charge to be scrapped by government. The BBC reports the justice secretary, Michael Gove, is to scrap the criminal courts charge from 24th December. Since April, people convicted in the criminal courts in England and Wale had to pay a charge of between £150 and £1,200 towards the cost of their case.
Ministers accused of hypocrisy over fracking schemes in Lancashire. The Lancashire Telegraph reports on the government’s announcement that it would make the final decision on Cuadrilla’s fracking appeals.
Study on fracking is a report “by the industry for the industry”, says MEP for Midlands North West. Donegal Now reports comments by Matt Carthy Sinn Fein MEP for Midlands North West that the Irish Environmental Protection Agency study on fracking has “lost the confidence of the public and can no longer be described as an independent environmental impact assessment”.
2nd December 2015
Environment Agency gives green light to testing at Horse Hill oil well near Gatwick. DrillOrDrop report
Update on Kirby Misperton fracking application. Third Energy agrees to February decision date and Ryedale District Council defers decision again. DrillOrDrop report
Upton anti-fracking camp faces D-day in eco battle. The Chester Chronicle reports battle lines are drawn as anti-fracking campaigners gear up for a confrontation with IGas, granted an eviction notice for their protest camp from 4pm on Friday. The paper says local people are prepared to be arrested. A wooden fortress has been created around the camp. IGas spokesman, David Petrie, said earlier this week no decision had yet been taken over whether an eviction notice would be enforced.
Botswana sells fracking rights in national park. The Guardian reports the Botswana government has sold the rights to frack for shale gas in more than half of the Kgalagadi transfrontier park, one of the largest conservation areas in Africa. The park is home to gemsbok desert antelope, black-maned Kalahari lions and pygmy falcons, the paper says. But conservationists and top park officials – who were not informed of the fracking rights sale – are now worried about the impact of drilling on wildlife.
Calls for unity on fracking. The Driffield Times and Post reports on calls by Cllr Kate Wright for unity in Driffield Council. Speaking at a town meeting, she said: ““I was very concerned about the effects of fracking and felt we should have some sort of unity from the council.”
Dr James Hansen: UK is ‘screwing its children’ with fracking policy. CarbonBrief reports criticism of UK pro-shale policy by climate scientist, James Hansen. He told the website: “Well, that’s screwing your children and grandchildren. Because if you do that, then there’s no way to avoid the consequences [of] multi-metre sea-level rise. But we can’t do that. And that’s what the science says crystal clear. And yet politicians pretend not to hear it, or not to understand it.” He also said replacing coal with gas would not be temporary. “If you build a new power plant, you don’t plan to shut it down in 10 years. There’s way too much gas in the ground. It would put us way over 2C, 3C, 4C. There’s a huge amount of gas in the ground. What political leaders have not been willing to do is face the truth that you can’t burn all of that.”
‘Bias accusations’ rejected over fracking research. The Belfast Telegraph reports that the Irish Environmental Protect Agency has rejected criticism of its two-year study on fracking. The EPA deputy director said “We commissioned what we believe is world class research”. He said no fracking would take place as part of the research. The involvement of the consultancy CDM Smith has led to accusations of bias and compromise. “That is not the view of the EPA”, he said.
1st December 2015
Consultation round-up. Review of current public consultations, including proposals to change the rules on limiting liability for costs in legal challenges to environmental decisions. DrillOrDrop report
Flamingo Land describes possible fracking sites as “massive concern”. The York Press reports a top tourism attraction in Ryedale as described the possible creation of numerous fracking sites near its base as a “massive concern”. (See DrillOrDrop report of 26/11/15). The paper says Third Energy stated last week it had not developed plans for further fracking operations in the area. Northern Echo report
INEOS completes deal to acquire DEA UK North Sea gas fields. INEOS announces it has completed the purchase of all of the UK North Sea gas fields owned by DEA Deutsche Erdoel AG , the German-based subsidiary of L1 Energy. The platforms, infrastructure and the team that runs them will form part of a new business to be called INEOS Breagh based in London. The company says the fields provide up to 8% of the UK’s gas, enough gas to warm 1 in 10 British homes.
Anti-frackers join city march. The Blackpool Gazette reports anti-fracking campaigners from Fylde joined thousands of other protesters for a major climate change event in London. Speakers at a rally included Barbara Richardson, of Roseacre Awareness Group, and Tina Rothery of Lancashire Nanas Against Fracking.
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