Daily headlines

January 2016 fracking headlines

PapersEditOur digest of January’s headlines about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas developments – and reaction to them, including:

  • Leaked letter reveals Government plan to push shale gas industry and take over planning decisions
  • Upton anti-fracking camp near Chester cleared by bailiffs
  • Five council approve anti-fracking motions
  • IGas groundwater monitoring boreholes approved at Misson, Nottinghamshire
  • Ryedale MP plans company summit and resigns from parliamentary fracking group
  • Court clears Barton Moss anti-fracking “slow walkers”
  • New consultation underway on Third Energy’s fracking plans
  • Yorkshire couple warn of Pennsylvania’s fracking experience
  • IGas placed in financial warning zone for fourth year
  • INEOS tells DrillOrDrop it will focus on English shale gas areas
  • Anti-fracking campaigner detained under Terrorism Act

And new this month: check out the most read posts on DrillOrDrop last month here

31st January 2016

Leaked letter reveals Government plan to take over fracking decisions. DrillOrDrop report  and report in The Telegraph which first published the leaked letter. Blog by Tony Bosworth, of Friends of the Earth, which acquired the letter and a petition against the proposals.

Spending watchdog to examine scrapping of £1bn carbon capture plan. The Guardian reports that the National Audit Office is to investigate George Osborne’s decision to scrap a £1bn prototype carbon capture scheme. According to a letter seen by the paper, the NAO will be looking into the expenses incurred in running and then prematurely stopping the CCS project.

French government will appeal court decision on Total permit. Natural Gas Europe reports comments by France’s energy minister, Segolene Royal, that French authorities would appeal the decision by the administrative court of Cergy-Pontoise to return the Montelimar exploration licence to Total. She restated her “determination to strictly enforce the hydraulic fracturing ban to protect the environment and health”.

Environmental group raises awareness of ‘frightening’ dangers of fracking in Yeovil. The Western Gazette reports on Frack Free Yeovil, which distributed information and collected signatures for a petition in the town on Sunday.

Anti-fracking campaigners say shale gas drilling could have ‘devastating’ impact for Nottinghamshire. The Nottingham Post reports warnings by campaigners that fracking could bring what they call “devastating” consequences to Nottinghamshire. The paper says more than 30 people crowded around the Brian Clough statue in Nottingham city centre on Sunday as part of the No Fracking Way campaign to highlight the issues associated with the controversial deep-drilling technique.

Anti-fracking campaigners gather at Wiltshire’s white horse. Blackmore Vale Magazine reports campaigners gathered at the Westbury white horse to show opposition to unconventional gas exploitation. Despite fearsome winds, it said, the crowd of 80 people defied the weather and the drillers with their colourful banners.

30th January 2016

Ryedale anti-fracking protest outside MP Kevin Hollinrake’s constituency surgery. DrillOrDrop report and report by The Northern Echo

Peers debate coal bed methane extraction in the Forest of Dean. Fracking Week in Westminster – DrillOrDrop round of parliamentary questions and debates.

Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos to drill ‘tens of shale gas wells’ this year. Jim Ratcliffe, of INEOS, tells The Telegraph, the company is beginning town hall meetings near potential shale gas exploration sites across northern England and will submit planning applications in the spring. He says INEOS hoped to be “well advanced with doing seismic testing and indeed some test drills” before the end of the year.

UK shale gas explorers await green light to frack. The Telegraph asks whether 2016 will finally be the year that the industry the go-ahead in the UK. Francis Egan tells the paper he has a very strong case at the inquiry due to start on 9th February and hopes to start drilling by the end of this year.

29th January 2016

35+ events as part of No Fracking Way weekend. DrillOrDrop report

Charities face tougher rules after anti-fracking campaign. The Times and ThirdSector.co.uk reports that the Charity Commission is to review its policy on the naming of non-charitable campaigning groups connected to charities after a complaint by Cuadrilla about Friends of the Earth. Last year, the group was accused by Cuadrilla of scaremongering over a leaflet. The leaflet was distributed by the non-charitable group, Friends of the Earth Ltd, and was not under the commission’s remit. But the commission said there could be public confusion when charities and non-charitable bodies had similar names. “We therefore intend to review whether there is anything that can be done to avoid this difficulty in the future”, a spokesperson said.

Could fracking free Britain from depending on Middle East countries for wealth? The Express reports comments by the British Chamber of Commerce that fracking could be the key to rebalancing the skewed economy and freeing Britain from dependency on Middle East countries. Dr Adam Marshall, the organisation’s executive director for policy and external affairs, said: “Ministers must take urgent action to pare back the long-winded cycle of applications and appeals, which is undermining both interest and investment in energy projects across the UK. Given that we already import around half of our gas, a green light for shale gas exploration must be a top priority.”

UK public backs fracking over gas imports, says alliance. Utility Week reports on a poll commissioned by alliance of trade associations, which found 55% of those polled said natural gas, including shale gas, should be used to meet future gas needs. 66% agreed that natural gas had a role to play in helping the UK become a low carbon economy. The alliance included EEF (the manufacturers’ organisation), the Chemical Industries Association, the Energy Intensive Users Group and Oil and Gas UK. The report does not indicate which polling organisation was used or the polling methodology.

Anti-fracking demo will call for total ban. The Falkirk Herald reports that campaigners will gather in Falkirk town centre on Sunday to call for a total ban on fracking.

28th January 2016

Swansea Council approves anti-fracking motion – the fifth council in under a fortnight. DrillOrDrop report and South Wales Evening Post report

IGas applies for permit for Misson shale gas site but planning decision faces delay. DrillOrDrop report and Retford Times report

Lancashire college hosts major debate on fracking. The Lancashire Evening Post reports that Runshaw College in Leyland hosted a debate on hydraulic fracturing. Speakers included: Dr Laurence Stamford from the University of Manchester; Professor Alister Scott of Birmingham City University; Eric Vaughan from Cuadrilla Resources; and Tony Bosworth from the Friends of the Earth.

Lancashire businesses rally behind Cuadrilla head of upcoming inquiry. Lancashire Business Review reports that more than 100 Lancashire business leaders took part in a supporters’ rally at Fylde Rugby Club. It featured members of the North West Energy Task Force and the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce. Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, told the event he was “hugely appreciative” of what he described as “the overwhelming levels of support” from local businesses over the past two years.

Case against fracking ‘stronger now than ever’. The National, the newspaper supporting Scottish independence, reports the case against fracking is stronger than it was a year ago when the Scottish Government announced a moratorium. Friends of the Earth Scotland campaign’s head, Mary Church, said “One year on from Fergus Ewing’s announcement of the moratorium, fracking looks like an even worse idea than it did 12 months ago. Evidence of detrimental impacts from fracking in the US is mounting, more states and countries have banned it, opposition to the unconventional fossil fuel industry continues to grow and the low oil price means it’s not economically viable.”

27th January 2016

Who drilled where in 2015? Last year saw the lowest number of onshore wells drilled in nearly 40 years. DrillOrDrop report

Work gets underway at IGas shale site at Misson, Nottinghamshire, eight days after plans approved. DrillOrDrop report

UKOG announces plans to drill on Isle of Wight this year. UK Oil & Gas Investments plc announces the best estimate of oil in place around Arreton on the Isle of Wight as 219 m barrels. The Arreton Main discovery and the Arreton North and South prospects are in a 200km square 14 round licence (to be named PEDL 331). UKOG says it will “accelerate its discussions with the local planning authority and will submit the necessary applications in 2016 to obtain regulatory consents to appraise the Arreton Main oil discovery. Plans to acquire 2d seismic coverage will follow drilling, a statement says. Isle of Wight County Press report

YP Letters: Does pro-fracking MP speak for Ryedale or for his party? Steve Pearse, writing in The Yorkshire Post, contrasts statements by MP Kevin Hollinrake on fracking. Mr Pearse, open-minded about fracking, quoted Mr Hollinrake from July as saying “No economic benefit, vested interest or party political pressure could ever lead me to support something I believed would have a detrimental effect on our countryside or the health of local residents.” But earlier this month, he said: “Having weighed up all the arguments I have concluded that fracking should go ahead in the constituency so long as it is monitored every step of the way.” Mr Pearse asks “what has changed so drastically?”

U.S. shale firms, struggling to profit with $30 oil, slash spending more. Reuters reports that three major US shale oil companies, Hess Corp, Continental Resources and Nobel Energy, have slashed 2016 capital spending plans more than expected in a bid to survive $30 a barrel prices. One said prices would need to rise more than 20% to turn a profit. FT report on Hess and Continental.

Oil price plunge threatens shale revolution. Mail Online reports producers of shale deposits are now facing the payback of the energy revolution they wrought: ultra-low prices forcing them out of business. It says this year is expected to be a make-or-break year for US shale producers with many at risk of failure following the oil price fall.

99p petrol will not last forever. Daniel Mahoney and Tim Knox, of The Centre for Policy Studies, writing in Energy Global Oilfield Technology, say “The Government must continue to prepare the ground for UK shale development in the 2020s by ensuring that exploratory drilling takes place by the end of this year”. They say investment decisions for shale will be based on gas prices in the 2020s by which prices are likely to rise. “It is vital that this drilling takes place so that a true assessment of the UK’s shale can be realised. The Government must ensure that there is no slippage from this timetable”, they add.

Frodsham holds ‘important’ public meeting on fracking. The Chester Chronicle and Cheshire West and Chester Green Party report on a meeting hosted by Weaver Vale MP, Graham Evans, in Frodsham, now covered by a licence which would all exploration for shale gas. Mr Evans told the meeting he understood the need for fracking but would prioritise the “health and safety” of people in Weaver Vale. Other speakers at the meeting were: Tom Crotty and Tom Pickering, of INEOS; Edward Coterell, a local chartered surveyor; Professor Robert Jackson, a professor of sustainable engineering; George Kowalczy, a toxicologist with Public Health England; Trevor Sexty, of the Health and Safety Executive; and Gordon Whitaker, of the Environment Agency.

YP Letters: Shadow of fracking hangs over Yorkshire Wolds. Sue Cuthbert, writing to The Yorkshire Post, says: “Once any fracking company gets a foothold in England, 
there will be no stopping them. They would not give a damn about us, our beautiful environment, our health, our lives.” She says beautiful land in Yorkshire would “be a memory”.

Northern Ireland wind energy ‘cheaper than gas generation’ by 2020. The Irish News reports comments by the Northern Ireland Renewable Industry Group, which says generating power through onshore wind will be cheaper than gas by 2020. But it adds this will be possible only through “appropriate policy and regulatory conditions”. At a conference today, the lobby group is calling for certainty over Northern Ireland’s energy policy.

26th January 2016

Study finds methane leaks from 30% of abandoned wells – but average emissions less than a single cow. DrillOrDrop report and report by BBC (Fracking fears raised by methane gas study)

Ryedale MP Kevin Hollinrake tells parliamentary debate shale gas is too good an opportunity to ignore. DrillOrDrop report  and reports by Politics Home,  Energy Voice, Yorkshire Post and Liverpool Echo 31/1/16)

Oil drilling: Woodburn site licence terms change for Infrastrata. The BBC reports that Infrastrata, which wants to drill for oil in County Antrim, will not now have to start work within weeks after the terms of its licence were changed. The original licence, granted five years ago, required the company to start exploratory drilling by 5th March 2016. But it wrote to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to seek a variation removing the deadline. The company can now move into a second five-year term.

Engineers warn of looming UK energy gap. The Guardian reports on a study published by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers today. It advises a greater focus on shale gas exploration in the UK to meet an “unprecedented energy gap in a decade’s time”. It estimates up to 30 new gas-fired power stations are needed to make up the supply deficit from phasing out old nuclear reactors and coal fired stations.

Neath Port Talbot councillor calls for fracking ban across Wales and UK. The South Wales Evening Post reports Cllr John Warman expressed shock at the recent decision by Natural Resources Wales to issue an environmental permit for drilling at Pontrhydyfen. He said it had shocked the community. “This decision does not safeguard the environment from pollution, noise, and water contamination. The Welsh Government’s moratorium for the time being on fracking until it has proven to be safe is not good enough. Temporary prohibition of an activity is doing little to quell feats in the community. I am concerned about the piecemeal nature of the present system that can lead to fracking.”

Anti-fracking group starts up in Westbury. White Horse News reports on a group formed in Westbury to oppose fracking after licences were granted for oil and gas exploration in the area.

Winsford councillor warns of stability in the Middle East during fracking talks. The Winsford Guardian reports Lib Dem Cllr Malcolm Gaskill warned about instability in the Middle East during a discussion on fracking. He said: “We may find ourselves in 10 years’ time needing every bit of shale we can find under the UK just to keep going. It may not be the case. Isis may go away and everyone will be friendly in the Middle East. It’s dangerous. If anybody understands the Muslim religion – you ain’t seen nothing like it.”

In North Dakota’s Booming Oil Patch, One Tribe Beat Back Fracking. Huffington Post reports on how the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians banned fracking in 2011 on its 77,000 acre reservation.

25th January 2016

New details on Cuadrilla fracking appeal. DrillOrDrop report

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla Resources, on BBC News HARDtalk. Link to IPlayer here. Available for 11 months.

Debate on Forest of Dean coal bed methane extraction in the House of Lords. Report coming soon in Fracking Week in Westminster. Transcript at TheyWorkForYou.com

Why the oil price crash may have killed off fracking in Wales for decades. Wales Online reports that the Australian-listed company, Eden Energy, which owned 50% of rights to exploit shale in South Wales, has sold its stake for £1, plus a royalty if petroleum is ever produced. Professor Calvin Jones, of Cardiff Business School, tells the website the oil price would need to quadruple before companies had an incentive to start shale gas extraction in the UK. He says political opposition in Wales also makes the country an unattractive place to frack, even if prices rose.

Halliburton reports a loss as shale drillers plan more cuts. World Oil reports that Halliburton, the world’s largest provider of drilling and production services, reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $28m

Huge areas of Nottinghamshire licensed for fracking. The Worksop Guardian reports that most of Mansfield and Worksop and parts of Ashfield are among new areas licensed for fracking by the government. The article lists the towns in each licence block and the operators. It also includes quotes from opponents of fracking, INEOS and Nottinghamshire County council’s head of planning, Sally Gill.

Cumbrians to join day of action in Carlisle to demonstrate against fracking. The Westmorland Gazette reports opponents of fracking will gather at the bandstand by the Guildhall Museum at 2pm on Sunday.

Climate deal’s first big hurdle: the draw of cheap oil. The New York Times reports the commitment to renewable energy sources faces the first big test as the price of oil collapses. For the climate accord to work, governments must resist the lure of cheap fossil fuels in favour of policies that encourage and, in many cases, require the use of zero-carbon energy sources. But those policies can be expensive and politically unpopular, especially as traditional fuels become ever more affordable.

24th January 2016

Round-up of last week’s council motions on fracking. DrillOrDrop report

Fracking Week in Westminster. DrillOrDrop report on fracking in parliament in the past week.

US junk-rated energy debt hits two-decade low. The FT reports the value of debt issued by junk-rated US energy companies has plummeted to the lowest level for more than two decades, sending a warning signal about the outlook for the North American oil industry. The average high-yield energy bond has slid to just 56 cents on the dollar, below levels touched during the financial crisis in 2008-09, as investors brace for a wave of bankruptcies.

Saudis ‘will not destroy the US shale industry’. The Telegraph reports comments by Daniel Yergin, founder of HIS Cambridge Energy Research Associates who says hedge funds and private equity groups armed with $60bn of ready cash are ready to snap up the assets of bankrupt US shale drillers, almost guaranteeing that America’s tight oil production will rebound once prices start to recover. He says it is impossible for OPEC to knock out the US shale industry.

MP gives ‘cautious support’ to fracking as opposition mounts. The Horncastle News reports that Louth and Horncastle MP Victoria Atkins has given ‘cautious support’ to controversial proposals for fracking exploration to be carried out at several sites in the Lincolnshire Wolds. The Government had granted nine licences for exploration at locations throughout the east of the county. Campaigners claim even the exploratory licences could lead to major drilling operations – including in protected countryside.

Campaigners call for no fracking in Neath Port Talbot with protest. The South Wales Evening Post reports that crowds gathered at Foel Fynyddau Forest, in Pontrhydyfen at the weekend to show opposition to fracking. Natural Resources Wales has granted an environmental permit to UK Methane Ltd for an exploratory borehole in the forest. It does not allow fracking but objectors claim exploration will lead to an application for fracking.

23rd January 2016

UK risks repeating American mistakes on fracking waste water – professor warns. DrillOrDrop report and report by The Ferret

Guest Post: Salford ‘slow walk’ anti-fracking protests ruled legitimate. DrillOrDrop report

Fracking bid delays could mean local people lose their voice, claim campaigners. The York Press reports a warning by Friends of the Earth that repeated delays in a fracking application for Ryedale could see local people lose their voice over the proposals. North Yorkshire County Council began another public consultation this week. Friends of the Earth campaigner Simon Bowens has warned that as time goes if the application still does not get decided, there is a risk that Government ministers will take the decision themselves.

SNP ‘bid to dodge fracking decision’ The Scottish Daily Mail reports comments by Friends of the Earth Scotland that the SNP has rigged its spring conference agenda to avoid a debate on fracking. FOE said the issue has been excluded, despite being lodged by “at least 20 SNP branches”.

Internal SNP ceasefire over fracking ends as members’ conference bid for ban blocked. The Herald Scotland reports a civil war within Scotland’s dominant political party dramatically re-opened last night, after SNP bosses moved to strike down a grassroots bid to force through a ban on fracking.

Councillor held after Upton anti-fracking protest wins right to carry out duty. The Chester Standard reports that local councillor, Matt Bryan, who was arrested at the Upton camp eviction on 12th January, has won his fight to lift the ban on him visiting the area. After his arrest he was ordered to stay away from Upton as part of police bail conditions. But District Judge Michael Abelson has lifted the restriction and allowed him to visit all his constituency, apart from Duttons Lane, the road to the site of the camp.

Fracking: Listen To The Many, Not The Money. Campaigner Julie Wassmer, writing in The Canterbury Post, asks what is the point of voting for councillors in Kent or anywhere else if they have no power to represent us on fracking. Local councils have been ordered by the government to fast-track planning applications and Cuadrilla’s appeal in Lancashire is to be decided by the Communities Secretary. She said: “Communities remain determined to protect their families’ health, the value of their homes and their precious environment from an industry that looks increasingly unable to make even a short term profit from the long term damage a redacted DEFRA report failed to hide.”

22nd January 2016

North Yorkshire County Councillors call for detailed health data before fracking starts to tell if it is to blame for future problems. DrillOrDrop report

Bolton Council vows to block fracking on land it controls or owns after receiving 2,500 petition.  DrillOrDrop report and report in The Bolton News

Facts before frack. Frack Free East Yorkshire reports on a meeting on fracking with retired GP Tim Thornton and retired bishop Graham Cray.

Ministers urged not to interfere in Yorkshire fracking decision. The Yorkshire Post reports campaigners have urged ministers to leave the decision over whether fracking in Yorkshire should get the go-ahead in local hands after it emerged the process will be delayed again. Simon Bowens, regional campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: “It is essential that decisions on fracking should be made by county councillors provided with the full information and not imposed on communities by Government ministers.”

ANALYSIS: The facts, the feelings and the fears involved in the fracking furore. The Yorkshire Post reports that fracking has “united communities in anger, inspired opinions that often border on hysteria, and engender a level of opposition not seen since the day Ned Ludd showed his contempt for knitting machines.

Revealed: The cost of Upton anti-fracking eviction operation. The Chester Chronicle reports almost 200 police officers were involved in Upton’s anti-fracking eviction, costing taxpayers an estimated £200,000 over a six-day period. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Roberts tells the paper it was “well planned and undertaken operation”. He says: “This was a difficult and challenging policing operation, which required great sensitivity on the part of the officers involved.” BBC News report

Chester Zoo wants fracking site newts’ habitat protected. BBC News reports Chester Zoo has called for reassurances that Great Crested Newts will be protected if test drilling for gas takes place in their habitat. The zoo said newts, which are protected under European law, may be living at the IGas site at Upton. It said: “We have also written to IGas to request assurances that there will be no adverse impact on the boreholes used for some of Chester Zoo’s water supplies.” IGas said it was aware of its responsibilities.

US proposes new crackdown on methane gas leaks. The FT reports moves by the Obama administration to update 30 year old regulations and cut leaks of methane from oil and gas developments on the public land it overseas. The proposed rules, estimated to cut methane leaks by 50%, require oil and gas producers to use the latest technology to limit leaks and flaring, through which excess gas is often burnt off, and to step up leak inspections with tools such as infra-fed cameras. Industry groups condemned the move, the paper says, calling it part of an “avalanche” of costly regulations that are hurting struggling oil and gas companies.

3,000 people don’t want Cannock Chase fracking. The Express and Star reports that 3,065 people have signed a petition by Cannock Chase Green Party calling for any future fracking to be banned on Cannock Chase. A day of action to raise awareness is planned for the end of the month, the paper says.

LETTER: Fracking destroys our treasured national parks. Barbara Hobday, writing to The Derbyshire Times, says allowing fracking in the Peak District would be “the thin edge of the wedge”. She says: “If it is allowed in the Peak District then it would be setting a precedent and other national parks would be under threat. We cannot stand by to allow the Government to lead the way in such disastrous undertaking.”

Schlumberger cuts 10,000 jobs amid oil price rout. The FT reports that Schlumberger disclosed its customers are cancelling projects, leading to a $1bn loss for the first quarter of 2015 and plans to cut 10,000 of its 95,000 staff. The latest cuts means the company has cut 34,000 or 26% of its original workforce since November 2014.

Councillor’s concerns on fracking. Bridlington Free Press reports comments by town councillor, Liam Dealtry, that “half of Flamborough and Bempton Cliffs could be at risk”, after Cuadrilla was granted a licence to explore for shale gas under Bridlington and swathes of the East Riding. Cllr Dealtry added: “I’m against fracking because it’s untested. People are not aware at all. We need to raise awareness of fracking, because it’s going on in our back yard.”

Upton information stand. Frack Free Dee reports there is an information stand at the A41 end of Upton Lane, Chester, near the IGas proposed drilling site. A protest camp was evicted on 12th January 2016.

Villagers invited to air fracking views again. The Loughborough Echo reports that residents of East Leake have another opportunity to comment on possible fracking operations in their area. A meeting by Frack Free Nottinghamshire, is planned 27th January at 7.30pm at the Three Horse Shoes pub.

Who can help when fracking goes wrong? Margaret Reichlin, writing in The Andover Advertiser, describes her experience of illness, which she said were caused by chemicals in timber treatment. She says: “In Britain it has never been good form to panic but it is simple good sense to ask “What if?” in advance.”

21st January 2016

Third public consultation underway on North Yorkshire fracking plans – and fourth may be needed because information still missing, says council. DrillOrDrop report

MP Kevin Hollinrake defends shale gas survey of supporters after anti-fracking group criticises it as biased and selective. DrillOrDrop report

Council prosecution over anti-fracking signs adjourned. Sciscomedia reports on the case against Fylde farmer, John Tootill, who lives near Cuadrilla’s proposed Preston New Road site. Fylde Borough Council sought to prosecute Mr Toothill, who had anti-fracking signs on his property, with 26 counts of displaying advertisements without consent. The case was adjourned by Blackpool Magistrates Court until 25th February.

Irranca-Davies to stand down as EAC chair. ENDS reports that Huw Irranca-Davies is stepping down as chair of the Environmental Audit Committee after less than a year. He is to run for the Welsh Assembly. An election to replace him will be in the coming weeks. The EAC has launched an inquiry into the Treasury’s influence on environmental policy.

YP Letters: Changing political landscape over fracking. Cllr Paul Andrews tells The Yorkshire Post that anti-fracking candidates were elected in district council elections in Malton, Norton and Pickering.

Demand an end to fracking in Transfrontier Park in Botswana. Petition to the Botswanan President Ian Khama to repeal licences granted for exploratory drilling to Karoo Energy in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

Is US fracking obsession behind global financial MELTDOWN? Warning issued over oil glut. The Express says global stock markets have been sent into meltdown over the past couple of weeks amid fears the world is about to fall into a depression worse than 2008 because of the US fracking revolution.

20th January 2016

Conservative-led Trafford Council votes again against fracking and agrees to ask government to reconsider INEOS licence. DrillOrDrop report

Rathlin Energy’s legal bid to bankrupt anti-fracking campaign delayed again. DrillOrDrop report

Environmental permit issued for a controversial exploratory borehole in Pontrhydyfen. The South Wales Evening Post reports that Natural Resources Wales has issued a permit to UK Methane Ltd to drill in Foel Fynyddau Forest. The permit does not allow the company to conduct any hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) or to extract any oil or gas, and the drilling and testing operations and work to reinstate the land should last no longer than 54 weeks.

Fracking applications should be decided by the Isle of Wight, not the government, council decides. DrillOrDrop report  Motion here and result reported by OnTheWight here (spool down to about 9pm). See also: Greens welcome more robust regulations on fracking applications (On theWight) and Government accused of fracking bias by Isle of Wight Council (Isle of Wight County Press online)

19th January 2016

Nottinghamshire County Council approves IGas plans for groundwater monitoring at Springs Road, Misson. DrillOrDrop breaking news and full report. Also reports from Nottingham Post, BBC News, Doncaster Free Press

Chorley Council approves motion to tell government to stay out of local fracking decisions. DrillOrDrop report

Oil market could drown in oversupply in 2016, says IEA. The Guardian reports on predictions by the International Energy Agency of increases in supply after lifting of sanctions against Iran. The IEA says the world could find itself drowning in oil and prices could fall further as Iranian output cancels out production cuts elsewhere.

US shale drillers’ hallelujah chorus turns to a lonely lament. The Telegraph reports the US decision to go “toe-to-toe” with the Saudis in global energy markets could prove ruinous for the country’s new oil men because fracking is much more expensive than traditional oil extraction.

Environmentalists warn of disaster for Everglades if oil fracking bill passes. The Guardian reports that Florida politicians are debating a proposed law that would remove right of cities and counties to ban fracking and instead give power to a single state agency.

UK fracking furore will fizzle out says shale chief. Ken Cronin, head of the industry body UK Onshore Oil and Gas, tells Climate Home Britain will come round to shale drilling, much like it did with nuclear plants and wind farms. In an interview with the website, he says: “The UK has seen protests with respect to onshore wind farms, nuclear power stations, and solar farms over the last 20 years. Opposition to onshore energy production is not new. Whether it is shale gas or onshore wind, there will be opponents and proponents. We’ll typically work through the fears and myths just like wind did a few years ago.”

GP Taylor: Why fracking in Ryedale must be resisted at all costs. Writing in The Yorkshire Post, the writer and broadcaster, GP Taylor, says “To allow fracking in our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty is totally stupid. We have an area renowned for tourism that we are going to deliberately spoil for the purposes of making a few rich people even richer. The industrialisation of Ryedale, and other parts of Yorkshire, should be fought at all costs.”

Terrorism Act incompatible with human rights, court rules in David Miranda case. The Guardian reports a court of appeal ruling by John Dyson, master of the rolls, that Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The decision came in the case of David Miranda, who was detained at Heathrow Airport in 2013 for carrying files related to information obtained by the US whistle-blower, Edward Snowdon. The judgement will force government ministers to re-examine the act.

18th January 2016

MP Kevin Hollinrake resigns as vice-chair of industry-funded parliamentary group on fracking. DrillOrDrop report also reports in The Guardian, The Scarborough News, The Northern Echo and Gazette and Herald  (all 19/1/16)

Oil price dips below $28 to 13-year low as markets brace for Iranian supply. The Guardian reports the price of oil fell briefly below $28 a barrel – the lowest point for 13 years on concerns about a worsening supply glut after sanctions on Iran were lifted.

OPEC sees deeper decline in rivals’ supply as US shale falters. Energy Voice reports forecasts by OPEC of a steeper decline in supplies from rival producers as the oil price crash hits the US and Canada. Production outside OPEC will drop by 660,000 barrels a day, the group said.

French anti-fracking groups call for protest on 28th Feb. Natural Gas Europe reports plans for a demonstration on 28th February in Barjac, a small town in Gard, one of the five departments covered by the Montelimar permit, which could be re-awarded to Total by a French court.

Tory MP hits out over fracking ‘hysteria’. The Newmarket Journal reports comments by Conservative MP for South Suffolk, James Cartlidge, that hysteria over fracking prevents communities from making balanced decisions on approving it in their area. The paper says he appeared to suggest that decisions should be taken away from councils.

17th January 2016

Fracking Week in Westminster – w/e 15th January. DrillOrDrop report on what politicians said this week about fracking, flooding, methane leaks and National Parks.

Beauty spots at risk in Wakefield district, say anti-fracking campaigners. The Wakefield Express reports on reactions to exploration licences in parts of Wakefield, Pontefract and Castleford.

‘Driffield and wolds must be informed on fracking’. The Driffield Times reports on an anti-fracking event on Friday 22nd January, at 7.30pm at the Old Town Hall, the Bell Hotel on Market Place in Driffield.

16th January 2016

March through Upton in ‘show of solidarity’ against fracking. The Chester Chronicle reports more than 400 people marched through Upton to the now-evicted Duttons Lane site, cleared by bailiffs on 12th January. Upton councillor Matt Bryan, who was one of nine people arrested during the police operation, said: “Today is just a show of solidarity with the Upton community. We have people from Upton and Chester here as well as from anti-fracking groups based much further afield. “The eviction was always going to happen and that was only the first hurdle in our battle really. When full-scale planning applications do come in we will be ready for them.”   BBC News report

No dash for gas blockades gas fired power station site. The Salford Star and Manchester Evening News report that at 6.30am activists from No Dash For Gas blockaded the entrance to the construction site of the Carrington gas fired power station near Salford. The activists erected and climbed a scaffolding tripod with a message in lights six feet up reading “Flood level 2050?” “When flooding becomes the new normal, you can’t carry on with business as usual”, the occupiers explained. “The decision to approve 159 new fracking licenses within days of signing the global climate agreement in Paris shows that, despite the rhetoric, this Government intends to keep putting their cronies before the climate.” Carrington, one of 14 new gas fired stations across the country, is next to the River Irwell, which flooded on Boxing Day.

Planning round-up. DrillOrDrop report on recent decisions and motions in Gloucester, Nottinghamshire, North Yorkshire and Westminster.

LETTER: Vigilance over fracking risks. John Burns, writing to The West Sussex County Times, comments it is “extraordinary and incredulous” that the votes of 91 MPs who did not participate in a ballot on fracking in national parks were not recorded.” Members of Parliament who voted in favour of fracking for gas need to evaluate their position”, he says.

15th January 2016

Nottinghamshire County Council planners recommend IGas monitoring boreholes for Misson shale gas site. DrillOrDrop report

Decision on Third Energy’s fracking plans at Kirby Misperton delayed again – and permit consultation period extended. DrillOrDrop report   Northern Echo report

Shale gas and fracking. Updated briefing from the House of Commons Library published on UK regulatory regime to include outcome of the 14th licensing round.

BHP Billiton writes down $7.2bn of shale assets. BBC News reports that BHP Billiton has written down the value of its US shale assets by $7.2bn (£5bn) as a result of falling oil prices. The latest move means it has written down nearly two-thirds of its investment in US shale.

Oklahoma fracking site damaged by fire. Bakken.com reports a fire at Continental Resources hydraulic fracturing operation in Grady County caused more than $20m in damage.

14thJanuary 2016

“Pennsylvania fracking experience is a warning to Ryedale”, say couple who visited US fracking areas. DrillOrDrop report

Anti-fracking demonstration to go ahead at Upton near Chester, despite the eviction of a protest camp. DrillOrDrop report

Relentless fall in crude has oil companies over a barrel. The FT reports on predictions by the energy consultancy, Wood Mackenzie, that barely half a dozen big projects can be expected to win the go-ahead this year as companies focus on short-term survival and cutting costs.

Delayed oil projects total nears $400bn. The FT also reports that energy groups have shelved nearly $400bn of spending on new oil and gas prices since the crude price collapse, pushing back millions of barrels a day in future output.

Shale billionaire says oil to rebound to $60 a barrel by year-end. Founder of Continental Resources, Harold Hamm, tells MarketWatch oil prices will double by the year end to $60 a barrel, in contrast to analyst projections that have crude sliding towards $20. He predicts the global glut will ease as US shale producers scale down production and he says OPEC is making a costly mistake in flooding the world with oil to force higher cost producers out of business.

Anti-fracking group set up in Barnsley. The Sheffield Star reports that No Fracking in Barnsley was launched at a public meeting last week. It plans to holds events and campaigns over the coming months, the paper says.

13th January 2016

Third Energy advert not misleading, watchdog rules. DrillOrDrop report

Upton anti-fracking camp: the Green Party condemns the forced eviction. Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, says: “The Green Party, the only party calling for an outright ban on fracking for shale gas, stands in solidarity with non-violent protesters who are standing up to extreme energy and challenging this government’s disastrous notion that fracking can solve all of our economic and energy problems.”

Police chief: Turfing out Chester anti-fracking protesters will be ‘slow but safe’. The Chester Standard reports how Cheshire’s assistant chief constable, Mark Roberts, said it was necessary to send 150 officers to the anti-fracking camp at Upton to keep the public safe. He said the operation of removing protesters from the site should not be rushed.

Bailiff falls in puddle during eviction of anti-fracking protesters in Upton. The Chester Standard also reports how a bailiff fell into a puddle after hail storms and heavy rain led to slippery surfaces at the Duttons Lane camp.

Andrew Austin’s RockRose Energy starts trading. Proactive Investors reports that the company run by former IGas boss, Andrew Austin, has raised an initial £4.4m while it assesses acquisition possibilities in the UK. RockRose began trading today on the London Stock Exchange’s main market.

Cameron defends ditching £1bn carbon capture prize. ENDS reports on the Prime Minister’s defence of the government decision to abandon funding CCS projects. Speaking to the Liaison Committee, Mr Cameron said providing £1bn for the White Rose project at Drax or SSE’s Peterhead gas retrofit is “£1bn that we could spend on flood defences, schools or the health service – but even after you’ve spent that £1 billion, that doesn’t give you carbon capture and storage that is competitive in the market”.

Fracking protesters gather outside council meeting. ITV reports that protesters gathered outside Gloucestershire County Council meeting, which is due to discuss plans for fracking in the Forest of Dean.

Northwich Town Council says ‘no’ to fracking. Cllr Andrew Cooper, of Northwich Town Council, tells The Northwich Guardian that granting an exploration and development licence for mid Cheshire is “ridiculous beyond belief”. The council agreed to write to Weaver Vale MP Graham Evans and Tatton MP George Osborne for support to prevent fracking in the area.

Could Fracking come to Cheshire East? The Crewe Chronicle reports Cheshire East Council has said it is “sceptical about the viability of shale gas in the borough, after the Government granted licences to explore sites in Crewe, Nantwich, Sandbach, Middlewich and Audlem. A spokesman tells the paper: “The council has a clear policy to explore the potential for geothermal energy, which we anticipate will be a far more acceptable energy source than shale gas and the associated fracking method that is required to extract shale gas.”

Greg Clark: The man behind Lancashire’s fracking furore. Hannah Martin, writing on Greenpeace UK’s blog, outlines plans for the public inquiry which will hear Cuadrilla’s appeals against the refusal of permission to frack at two sites in the Fylde.

Regulators probing whether fracking was connected to Aliso Canyon gas well leak. The SB Sun reports state regulators in California are investigating whether fracking contributed to the gas leak near Porter Ranch. In their investigation plan, state officials say they will examine well records, including those pertaining to “well stimulation operations.” “These are the kinds of questions that will be examined as a part of the division’s root cause analysis,” Department of Conservation Chief Deputy Jason Marshall said in an email

Oklahoma residents sue 12 energy companies over quakes. The Hydraulic Fracking Blog reports that residents from Edmond and Oklahoma City filed a suit against 12 energy companies alleging they caused or contributed to seismic activity.

Oil price tumble hits jobs and capital expenditure. The FT reports that BP is to cut 4,000 jobs across exploration and production and Brazil’s Petrobus is cutting its five-year investment programme by 25%.

Fracking for gas cannot be Christian, says Derby Reverend. The Derby Evening Telegraph reports comments by retired vicar Rev Canon Donald Macdonald that fracking would contribute to climate change and that rising global temperatures affect the world’s poorest “disproportionately and unfairly”. Writing in Derby Cathedral’s monthly magazine, Outlook, he says: “”Whatever its short-term (and in my view superficial) benefits, in light of what we know about carbon emissions, global warming and climate change, fracking to produce shale gas is morally wrong and cannot therefore be Christian.”

‘No’ to fracking, but county still in impact zone. The Monmouth Beacon reports that a new fracking licence issued for the Forest of Dean could affect Monmouthshire, despite no sites being considered in the county. Monmouthshire is within a 10km zone of potential impact for the licences issued on the English side of the border issued to South Western Energy.

12th January 2016

High Court enforcement officers and police evict Upton Community Protection Camp at IGas prospective coal bed methane site at Duttons Lane, near Chester. DrillOrDrop live updates

Also see: Energy firm bailiffs arrive to evict an anti-fracking protest camp set up in ‘test drilling’ field (Daily Mirror); Anti-fracking protesters evicted from Cheshire camp (The Guardian); Drivers face delays in Upton following anti-fracking protest (The Chester Chronicle) and Eviction of Upton anti-fracking camp is complete (The Chester Chronicle); Bailiffs and police swoop on anti-fracking protesters in Upton (The Chester Standard) Chester fracking protest continues. Roads closed overnight (ITV); Anti-fracking protesters moved from IGas testing site (Energy Voice); Upton anti-fracking camp: arrests made at eviction (BBC)

Four-year financial health warning for IGas, analysis reveals. DrillOrDrop report

Cameron: Time for balancing nature and property is over. The ENDS report covers the Prime Minister’s appearance before the Liaison Committee, made up of the chairs of House of Commons select committees. Ends reports Mr Cameron as saying onshore wind no longer needs “expensive subsidy” because costs have come down and his initial enthusiasm for tidal power has fallen because of “high costs”. He said the decision to scrap the £1bn carbon capture and storage competition was made collectively by the Cabinet. While he “completely believes” in the idea of CCS “the economics at the moment really aren’t working”. He claimed CCS would have cost £170/mwh on top of the £1bn investment.

Cameron dismisses climate policy criticism as “total, utter nonsense”. Business Green, reporting on the same meeting, said the Prime Minister disagreed with criticism at the government’s decisions to scrap or roll back on 16 separate climate policies in the past six months.

Energy company halts operations after earthquake in Alberta fracking zone. The Globe and Mail reports Alberta’s largest earthquake in more than a year, measuring 4.8, has stopped oil and gas operations in the Duvernay play in the Fox Creek area. Rules introduced last year require operators to stop work following seismic events measuring more than 4.0. There have been 366 seismic events in the region since January 2015.

France: anti-fracking coalition calls for massive demonstration over Total legal appeal. Natural Gas Europe reports that environmental groups in France are calling for a “massive demonstration” as they expect a court to restore a licence to Total. This was awarded in 2010 but repealed the following year after a ban on fracking. The court of Cergy-Pontoise will decide later this month when cancellation of the licence was legal.

Friends of Earth calls for end to fracking in Hampshire. The Hampshire Chronicle reports on comments by Brenda Pollack, FoE campaigner. She says: “Mr Cameron needs to understand that local communities up and down the country are rejecting fracking and demanding clean energy.”

Fracking is not answer to our energy needs. Sue Avery, of Worcester Green Party, tells Worcester News: “Science is clear that in order to prevent catastrophic climate change the vast majority of fossil fuels must remain in the ground.” She says shale gas is hardly a long-term solution to energy needs. She asks: “What is it going to take for this complacent government to put the wellbeing of its people ahead of short-term profits for its friends in the energy industry?”

11th January 2016

More touch times ahead for the junior oil and gas companies, warns Company Watch. In a survey of 104 exploration and production firms listed on AIM Company Watch found 42 per cent were in its “warning area” at the end of last year. This is an increase on 2014 when around a third were in this category. 90% of small oil and gas companies were still making a lost (as in 2014) but cost cutting in 2015 reduced total annualised losses from £2bn to £800m. See also: Small UK energy groups covered in red ink (FT)

Oil dive deepens to 12-year low; $20 warning on China. Reuters reports oil prices fell 6% to a new 12-year low with the prospects of crude reaching as low as $20 a barrel.

Oil price to slide towards $20 a barrel, warns Morgan Stanley. The FT quotes Morgan Stanley’s warning of oil prices falling to $20 following West Texas Intermediate – the US oil benchmark, falling to $31.28 a barrel.

US shale gas to Europe ‘a milestone but hypocritical’. Energy Live News reports comments by Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Energy, who says the US is positioning itself to supply energy to Europe and Asia. He adds: “I think it is hypocritical of course. We get attacked on how bad shale is and how bad fracking is for the environment and you guys are now benefitting from fracking… You want to complain you don’t want fracking and now you don’t mind buying gas that has been fracked.”

YP Letters: Why Ryedale’s anti-fracking campaigners are misguided. Paul Morgan, writing to The Yorkshire Post, says “Fracking is coming. The only way it will not happen is if it proves not to be viable commercially.” He says opponents of fracking may be able to delay it but will not be able to stop it. “Far better to accept the inevitable, and concentrate efforts on getting the best possible mitigations and financial compensation for the affected communities, and be looking for ways to maximise the business and job opportunities for local people.”

10th January 2015

Anti-fracking campaigners and IGas agree: Shropshire coal bed methane not worth exploiting. DrillOrDrop report

Fracking Week in Westminster reports on fracking and the new Housing and Planning Bill, plus protected areas, regulation and government contacts with the oil industry. DrillOrDrop report

Householders affected by floods face insurance double-whammy if they live nearby planned fracking sites. An investigation by The Independent on Sunday and Spinwatch finds that companies representing two-thirds of the UK insurance market will not insure against damage resulting from fracking – or have exemptions covering potential pollution of water from the technique. A test consumer, said to be living five miles from Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton site, asked companies if they would cover against fracking-related damage and contamination of water supplies. Most decline to comment about increased premiums but some acknowledged that where there had been a high rate of claims then premiums generally rise.

Statement on insurance. UK Onshore Oil and Gas responds with a statement on its website that the Association of British Insurers has said buildings insurance will cover damage from earthquakes, subsidence, heave and landslip. It adds: “There is, at present, little evidence to show a link between fracking and seismic activity that could cause damage to a well-maintained property, however, insurers will continue to monitor the potential for fracking, or similar explorations, to cause damage. We are not aware of any claims to date where seismic activity as a result of fracking has been mooted as a cause for damage”. UKOOG also says “the risk of water contamination is prevented by making well integrity a high priority”.

9th January 2016

Cut tax burden to make British industry great again, says billionaire Ineos boss. Jim Ratcliffe, chair of INEOS, calls for a single-digit tax rate on manufacturers to prevent “slow and catastrophic decline”. Writing in The Telegraph, he said the UK had fallen behind European rivals because of its failure to attract investment, develop a skilled workforce and provide cheap energy. He also said Britain was “sitting on huge shale gas deposits, which could change everything. He said “Interestingly, in the 18th and 19th centuries Britain built its wealth on its coal reserves but there were no Nimbys then”

Concerns raised over fracking. The Louth Leader reports local concerns about nine licences blocks released for oil and gas exploration across Lincolnshire

8th January 2016

INEOS interview. Operations director, Tom Pickering, talks to DrillOrDrop about focussing on English shale gas areas, social licence, opposition, community meetings and whether he’d buy a house next to a fracking site. DrillOrDrop report

Ryedale MP accused of “getting into bed” with fracking companies over private meeting. DrillOrDrop report  and report in The Northern Echo

Photos: Recent flooding affects Fylde fracking areas. Opponents of fracking in Lancashire have again called a moratorium – this time after heavy rain flooded land in areas earmarked for shale gas exploration. DrillorDrop report   Flooding fear over Fylde fracking sites Report in The Blackpool Gazette

Fracking test explosions allowed without planning permission. The BBC reports the government is set to remove another obstacle to shale gas exploration by ending the need for planning permission to drill exploratory boreholes and set underground explosive charges.

Rossendale MP insists it is right that fracking is explored. The Rossendale Free Press reports on comments by Rossendale’s MP, Jake Berry, who says: “I think it is right that we explore the possibility of making use of shale gas and oil. However it is important that this is done in the right places and with the support of local communities.”

French court could re-open the fracking debate. Natural Gas Europe reports that the administrative court of Cergy-Pontoise in the Paris area heard the appeal of TOTAL over the abrogation of one of its permits in South East France. The Montelimar permit was granted before the French fracking moratorium. The public prosecutor is asking the administrative court of partly or fully overturn the repeal of the permit, arguing TOTAL has no intentions of using fracking in its operations.

Shale Gas UK: A Pivotal Year Ahead. Rigzone reviews government actions to promote shale gas exploration and look ahead to applications being considered in 2016.

2016 brings more pain to U.S. shale companies as crude sinks. Reuters reports pain is growing more acute for US shale companies as a global glut sinks crude prices further to 11-year lows.

7th January 2016

Ryedale MP, Kevin Hollinrake, to sit down with shale companies to “visualise” fracking in northern England. DrillOrDrop report

Shale is energy security opportunity, not a disaster says minister in face of question about “widespread opposition” to fracking. Andrea Leadsom also responded to questions on regulation by Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake, where councillors are expected to decide on fracking plans next month. DrillorDrop report

Study by Yale University finds reproductive and developmental toxins in fracking fluid and wastewater. DrillOrDrop report

Study alleges harm from fracking chemicals with zero evidence. Energy in Depth reviews the Yale study (see headline above)and concludes that the authors fail to establish any credible link between fracking fluids and drinking water sources, or provide any evidence of the “possible pathways” that they alleged for exposure.

A blistering report that claimed fracking was safe is now being disputed by its own scientists. Business Insider UK reports that the EPA report released in June on the impacts of fracking on water quality is being called into question by the agency’s own scientists. The report initially did not find “widespread, systemic impacts” on drinking water resources close to fracking sites. But the EPA’s Science Advisory Board responded in December, after the report was released, that “major findings are ambiguous or inconsistent with the observations/data presented in this report.” The disagreement is about a finding that the “number of identified cases [of contaminated wells], however, was small compared to the number of hydraulically fractured wells”. The report did admit that because of insufficient long-term data it may not be possible to point to “rarity of effects on drinking water”.

Guidance on shale gas and fracking. Updated government infographic on approval checks needed before companies can explore for shale gas.

Oil price tumbles to below $33. The BBC reports oil prices fell to $32.62 a barrel as a result of rising US energy stockpiles and China’s weakening currency. Brent crude fell 4.7% while US West Texas Intermediate was down 3.9%. For US oil, that was its lowest point since touching $32.40 in December 2008 during the global financial crisis.

Councillors attack plans to open up region for fracking tests. The Manchester Evening News reports that councillors in Trafford have reacted with fury to news that huge swathes of the borough and other plots in Greater Manchester could be opened up to fracking. Labour councillor, Denise Western, whose Broadheath ward is covered by one licence area said: “We are extremely concerned by the decision to award this licence. I have already been contacted by a number of residents really worried about what this will mean for the area.”

Ratcliffe eyes up shale prospects. Energy Voice reports that Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of INEOS, has ambitions to establish a large shale gas industry in the UK.

6th January 2016

Fracking opponent detained under Terrorism Act. DrillOrDrop report

Brown declares state of emergency at Porter Ranch amid massive gas leak. The LA Times reports that California Governor Jerry Brown has ordered new regulations for all gas storage facilities in response to the continuing leak in the Porter Ranch neighbourhood of Los Angeles. The new regulations would require daily inspections using infrared leak-detection technology, measure gas flow and pressure and regularly test safety valves. The governor declared a state of emergency following leaks for more than 10 weeks from a damaged well which led to residents complaining of nosebleeds, headaches and other symptoms.

Oil prices could continue to slide with Saudi sights set on shale. Nils Pratley, writing in The Guardian, reports sub $30 oil seems a real possibility in the short term. It won’t for last for long, he says, but until the Saudis decide they’ve had enough of these prices, it’s hard to see what will alter the current plotline. At the moment, Saudi Arabia isn’t even trying to talk up prices, let alone curbing production.

Shale Producer Gets Wall St. Help in Re-Arming for OPEC War. Bloomberg Business reports that Pioneer Natural Resources has become the first shale producer to raise equity in 2016. It announced on 5th January it was tapping investors for $1.4bn of fresh equity to help finance an increase in spending and production in Texas where wells are still profitable. Bloomberg says the share sale shows capital markets are still willing to back the shale industry

Cheshire anti-fracking protesters dig in for eviction fight. The BBC reports that anti-fracking protesters at Upton have bolstered their campsite with tunnels, walls and a moat. The owner of the site and IGas was given permission to evict the camp from 4th December 2015. But bailiffs have not attempted an eviction and the campaigners remain in place. One protester said the aim was to instigate a potentially dangerous “game of mousetrap” when the bailiffs arrive.

Chester’s Labour council accused of U-turn over fracking ban. The Chester Chronicle reports Conservatives have accused Labour-led Cheshire West and Chester Council of making a U-turn on its pledge to introduce a ban on fracking until environmental issues have been addressed. The council says “any decision that would interfere with the discretion of the council acting in its capacity as planning authority would be unlawful.”

Fracking tipped to ‘undoubtedly affect’ Warrington after Government hands out exploration licences. The Warrington Guardian reports on comments by Warrington and Halton Green Party which believes fracking is inevitable in the area. A spokesperson said: “The concentration of licences is in the north and will undoubtedly affect Warrington in some way.”

We must turn to nuclear and shale to avoid an energy crisis. Struan Stevenson, writing to The Herald Scotland, says “If we are going to tackle the looming energy crisis then we must also exploit our massive reserves of shale gas, which would help us to reduce our dependency on expensive imported gas”. The writer adds: “It is typical of the feverish nature of the climate change debate in Britain that this massive find has been either entirely ignored or robustly attacked as anti-green.”

‘Ministers have turned their back on industry’. Dr Stan Higgins, chief executive of North-East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC), tells The Northern Echo that ministers are causing “death by a thousand cuts” by making decisions without comprehension of their impact. He says any government with industry, energy security and a deep understanding of science and technology would have ensured a pilot underground coal gasification scheme in north east England.

5th January 2015

“Government must end short-sighted support for fossil fuels”. Friends of the Earth calls on the government to change energy policy in the light of provisional figures from the Met Office which show December 2015 was the wettest calendar month since records began in 1910. FoE’s climate campaigner, Guy Shubsole, says: ““David Cameron’s government must also end its short-sighted support for climate-wrecking fossil fuels and put energy efficiency and renewable power at the heart of UK energy policy.”

Is the Government’s decision to make a final ruling in Cuadrilla’s fracking appeals an undemocratic betrayal of localism? Guest post for DrillOrDrop by Laurence Williams

Police refuse to confirm if they have used surveillance on Wrexham anti-fracking protesters. The Liverpool Daily Post reports that police have refused to confirm or deny if they if they have carried out surveillance of campaigners against test underground drilling for gas. Wrexham Cllr Arfon Jones claimed officers had been seen openly videoing the campaigners protesting at Borras. He said he was extremely disappointed at the police response to his FOI request. The Police said secrecy was vital to protect police techniques.

MP would fight against fracking on Cannock Chase. The Cannock Mercury reports Amanda Milling MP has confirmed she will oppose any plans to frack on Cannock Chase – though there are no proposals for exploratory drilling. She said “There appears to be a lot of protest against something that isn’t happening.”

Controversial fracking moves a step closer in Burnham-On-Sea area. Burnham-on-Sea.com reports that parts of the area could see fracking for shale gas after South Western Energy secured rights to explore an area from Minehead to Trowbridge. The website says there are nine licence blocks in Somerset that run from just inside the Exmoor National Park, across the northern Quantock Hills AONB and into the Somerset Levels.

Dangers of fracking in Dorset: letter. Three Lib Dem parliamentary spokespeople in Dorset, writing in the Blackmore Vale Magazine, urge David Cameron to think again and what they describe as “this profoundly mistaken policy of fracking. They ask all Dorset MPs to join them in opposition to fracking in the county.

4th January 2016

Horse Hill-1 oil discovery, final flow test consent. UKOG, one of the partners in the Horse Hill-1 well in Surrey, announces that the Oil and Gas Authority has given consent for an extended flow test over three separate zones. All necessary permissions are now in place to test the well, the company says.

Fracking could cut bills and create jobs, says the Chancellor. The Knutsford Guardian reports a comment by George Osborne, MP for Tatton, to the award of shale gas licences to INEOS. Mr Osborne told the paper: “We in Britain should be in favour of new forms of energy like fracking that can lead to lower family bills, more jobs and lower carbon emissions for our environment. With our new wealth fund, I’ve also made sure the money raised in profits is spent to benefit our local communities, something that didn’t happen in the past.”

“We’re not saying fracking can’t be done” – CPRE ex chair. The Petersfield Post reports comments by the former chair of CPRE Hampshire, Christopher Napier, awarded an OBE in the New Year honours. On fracking he said: “My concern is the landscape issue when it comes to things like water pollution and what’s happening underground.” More needed to be known on the environmental impact. “We’re not saying it can’t be done, it depends on how it is done.”

Shale gas is a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming and must be kept in the ground’. Keith Neal, writing in The Messenger, says the Paris climate agreement means the government should rethink its policy on fracking. He says: “If the government really started to show faith in renewable energy, investors would be encouraged to switch steadily to this sector, creating jobs in the process”.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett gives support to Cannock Chase fracking ban. The Cannock Mercury reports that Natalie Bennett on a visit to Cannock Chase criticised the government for going back on a promise to ban fracking under Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks. She said: “We shouldn’t have fracking anywhere in Britain. What we find is that when local communities find out about fracking resistance to it grows.”

Quarry sites given thumbs up from council committee with fracking protest outside. The Nottingham Post reports protesters gathered outside county hall to tell representatives they don’t want fracking in their areas. The council’s environment committee was discussing the minerals local report, which gave details of areas where shale gas could be found, including Broxtowe and Rushcliffe. The committee said there was no need to a separate plan for shale gas because it was a hydrocarbon development which was already used throughout the county.

California’s ‘staggering’ leak could spew methane for months. Inside Climate News reports toxins such as hydrogen sulphide and benzene have been detected in the air, following the leak at a gas storage site at Aliso Canyon. Hundreds of residents in the Porter Ranch neighbourhood of Los Angeles have had to leave their homes because they’ve experienced headaches, nausea, nosebleeds and other health effects. Others have experienced bleeding from eyes and gums. The site is thought to be emitting 62-98% as much methane per hour as the entire Barnett Shale. Plans to drill a relief well to stop the leak could take three to four months.

How US shale oil production is forcing prices down. The BBC reports a rise in oil prices as trading began, in response to tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. But most predict the rise will be short-lived, it says, and there will be “another torrid year” for commodity prices. The blame for low prices lies with US shale oil producers, who have enabled a glut of crude on world markets.

3rd January 2016

Oil’s prologue likely to be a harbinger of worse things to come. Ed Crooks in the FT reports productivity in the main US shale oil regions as risen by 48% by improved techniques and drilling in the most productive sweet spots. But since October productivity gains have stalled in the Eagle Ford and Bakken of North Dakota. The EIA expects total US production will drop by 920,000 barrels a day in the near to next September. He says even at last year’s oil prices the industry was not making money. And with no growth and no profits the US exploration and production industry is facing a gruelling year.

YP Letters: We cannot afford to ignore potential of fracking and shale gas. Lorraine Allanson, of Friends of Ryedale Gas Exploration, writes to The Yorkshire Post in response to a letter opposing Third Energy’s plans to frack at Kirby Misperton. She says: “We cannot live without natural gas, not now, and not for many decades. It is time people woke up to that fact. Any government would be failing its population if it allowed a resource that we have under our feet to go un-utilised.”

No to fracking in Herefordshire. Paul Carpenter, writing in The Hereford Times, asks if planning permission were granted locally, “can we expect the possible desecration of areas of our countryside, earthquakes and contamination of our natural aquifers and drinking water as has been the case elsewhere?” He says: “This isn’t scaremongering but fact that any discerning investigator will uncover. The assurances given that these fears are unfounded are unsound.”

2nd January 2016

Christmas decoration inspires new campaign focus – #webelieve – for Lancashire anti #fracking group. DrillOrDrop report. Report by The Blackpool Gazette

Don’t expect any swift rebound in the oil price. Jeremy Warner, in The Telegraph, doubts there will be a recovery in oil prices in the next year. Recovery does not suit Saudi Arabia’s strategy which appears to be to put US shale out of business.

Fracking in the UK: How soon is now? Jamie Ashcroft, for Proactive Investors, asks: Will fracking work in the UK? Can the gas be extracted safely and effectively? How much gas can be recovered? And will shale development be economic and, if so, how much is it really worth? He says: “Answers can come in 2016, providing key decisions fall in the industry’s favour in the first quarter of the year.”

North East MP comes under fire over Northumberland National Park fracking vote. The Chronicle reports that Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan has been criticised by election rival Julie Porksen, of the Lib Dems, for voting in support of fracking under Northumberland and other national parks.

1st January 2016

What to watch in 2016. DrillOrDrop’s review of oil and gas sites that may see action in the next year

Top 10 posts of 2015. DrillOrDrop report on the most read articles of last year

Comment: If I was East Devon’s MP. Claire Wright, an independent county councillor writing in the Exeter Express and Echo, says she would remove tax breaks for fracking companies and scrap fracking plans altogether.

Would few ‘nodding donkeys’ spoil IW? Chris Cory, writing in The Isle of Wight County Press, suggests that full-scale commercial production is extremely unlikely on the island. He also says if people oppose conventional oil production they should be supporting renewable energy. “I didn’t notice a huge outcry when the Navitus Bay off shore wind farm project was scuppered by the government”, he says.

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