Our digest of March’s headlines about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas developments – and reaction to them
- Coastal Oil and Gas drops Llanharan appeal
- Go-ahead for 15 years of gas production in Surrey
- First US shale gas ship sails into Norway and INEOS opens mothballed Grangemouth manufacturing unit
- Daily updates and summaries on public inquiry into Cuadrilla’s fracking plans
- Fund opens in memory of Steve Becker, BBC Radio Lancashire reporter, who died on the inquiry’s final day
- Wales extends fracking moratorium to underground coal gasification
- IGas calls time on 3rd Cheshire coal bed methane site
- Egdon Resources abandoned Laughton-1 well
- Outstanding flow rates reported at Horse Hill to warnings from campaign groups
- Gallup poll finds US opposition to fracking at 51%
- Study links fracking and earthquakes while US Geological Survey identifies 7 million people in areas at risk from induced seismicity
- Ryedale District Council recommends refusal of Third Energy fracking plan at Kirby Misperton
- Protests and arrests outside Horse Hill drilling site near Gatwick
- Swansea Council agrees to make fracking opposition official policy
- Two Pennsylvania families awarded $4.2m against Cabot Oil & Gas over groundwater contamination
- Aubrey McClendon dies in a single car accident a day after he was indicted over oil and gas licences
- Five-quarter North Sea gas extraction firm collapses
31st March 2016
Coastal Oil and Gas drops Llanharan appeal and looks for another exploration site. DrillOrDrop report
Fracking could boost the economy, says Bury North MP David Nuttall. The Bury Times reports on David Nuttall’s question to Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, in parliament last week. (Fracking Week in Politics)
UK Energy Statistics for 2015. The Department of Energy and Climate Change reports total energy production was 9.5% higher than in 2014, due to rises in output from oil, gas, bioenergy and primary electricity. Coal output fell to record lows. Primary energy consumption fell by 0.8% on 2014 taking account of weather differences but final energy consumption was 1.9% higher because of increased transport demand, probably because of lower fuel prices. Low carbon electricity’s share of generation rose from 37.9% in 2014 to a record high of 45.5% because of increases in nuclear and renewables generation. Electricity from gas fell 0.3% to 29.5% of the share; coal was down 7.1% to 22.6%; nuclear up 2% to 20.8%; renewables’ share was up 5.6% to a record 24.7%. Import dependency fell from 46.2% to 38.6%.
Provisional estimates of UK Greenhouse Gas emissions for 2015, including quarterly emissions for 4th quarter 2015.Department of Energy and Climate Change data shows UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2015 fell 3.4% on the previous year from 514.4 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) to 497.2mtCO2e. Carbon dioxide (CO2) fell from 422.0Mt in 2014 to 4.04.7Mt in 2015, down 4.1%. The biggest fall was in the energy sector, largely because less coal was used in 2015 than 2014. Business Green report
Government’s plan for secure power generation ‘unfit for purpose’: report. The Guardian reports on comments in a paper by the Institute of Public Policy Research. This describes a £2.8bn government scheme funded by energy bill payers which aims to keep the lights on in Britain as wasteful, expensive and “unfit for purpose”. The IPPR says the capacity market is failing to meet any of the government’s own objectives. The author, Byron Orme, says a revamped scheme should not support the most pollution plants, such as diesel generators, provide proper support for demand reduction schemes and halt support for existing nuclear reactors.
Letters: Cuadrilla shows “a lack of respect”. John Bailie, writing to the Blackpool Gazette, says Cuadrilla’s official opening of its new Bamber Bridge office within a few days of the public inquiry ending “smacks of arrogance and a lack of respect for the feelings of the communities which they claim to care about”. Bob Dennett, in a separate letter, says Cuadrilla is far from being a giant. He says: “Cuadrilla Resources Ltd has a net worth of -£1.9m, yes that is a minus figure.” Other subsidiary companies in the group all have a negative net worth, he adds.
YP Letters: Decision day nears over fracking. Edith Tucker, writing in The Yorkshire Post, warns of “what is potentially about to be unleashed upon the entire region” when North Yorkshire County Council decides on a planning application for fracking at Kirby Misperton. She asks: If our MP, Kevin Hollinrake, has had meetings in Westminster with the ‘industry’ to determine what fracking would look like in his constituency, is it not about time he shared that information with his constituents before it is too late?
IGas Energy Plc is “well placed” in oil market, says chief. Steve Bowler, chief executive of IGas Energy tells Proactive Investors the company is “well placed” in a “difficult environment” and is looking to increase the value of its assets. He said the firm has cut production costs to below $30 a barrel of oil equivalent, it had £30m in balances and 80 trillion cubic feet of gas in reserves.
Horse Hill: Regency Mines says time needed to understand potential. Andrew Bell, chairman of Regency Mines, tells Proactive it will take time for the full potential of the Horse Hill oil discovery to be understood. He said: “The forthcoming results of independent studies will give more perspective on the scale, but this is likely to be a developing story that will take time for its full potential to be understood.” The company reported a loss of £516,257 for the year to December 2015. It raised £400,000 in a share sale in March 2016.
BP and China National Petroleum Corporation sign BP’s first shale gas production sharing contract in China. Global reports a production sharing contract for shale gas exploration, development and production in the Neijiang-Dazu block in the Sichuan Basin, China. This is BP’s first shale gas deal in China and covers an area of 1,500 sq. km. Reports from Rigzone, MarketWatch
30th March 2016
Go-ahead for 15 years of oil and gas production at IGas site in Surrey. DrillOrDrop report on delegated decision on Bletchingley wellsites.
Refinery owner INEOS to reopen key Grangemouth plant. The Scotsman reports that INEOS has announced it will reopen a second production line at Grangemouth. The KG ethylene plant will have its second manufacturing unit, known as Train 2, brought back to life eight years after it was mothballed.
INEOS reopens plant to use fracked gas – FOE’s reaction. Blue and Green Tomorrow reports reaction by Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, who said: “Fracking has been stopped here because of its impact on local communities and climate change, but Ineos are imposing those same impacts on communities in the United States. Their supplier in Pennsylvania has attracted record fines for polluting groundwater and leaking waste. Scotland would be better off not being associated with this dirty business. Full FOE response Anti-fracking campaigners raise concerns over opening of shale gas facility at Grangemouth. Reaction from Commonspace
Opposition to fracking mounts in the US. A poll by Gallup finds that opposition to fracking stands at 51%, up from 40% in 2015. Support has fallen from 40% in 2015 to 36% this year. People with no opinion has also fallen from 19% to 13% over the same period. Support among Republicans has fallen 11%. Gallup interviewed by phone a random sample of 1,019 adults in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia from 2nd-6th March 2016.
What a fracking inquiry in Fylde tells us about planning, politics and power. PhD student Laurence Williams, writing for The Guardian, about the issues at play at the public inquiry in Blackpool into Cuadrilla’s fracking plans.
Ground-breaking study confirms link between fracking and earthquakes. EcoWatch reports on a study in Seismological Research Letters (Hydraulic Fracturing and Seismicity in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin), which goes further than previous work to confirm that horizontal drilling techniques are responsible for earthquakes. The study, EcoWatch says, confirms that it is the fracking procedure, not just injection wells, that can be linked to seismicity. CBC News and Yorkshire Post reports
Column: Democrats should check their fracking facts. Deon Daugherty, writing in Rigzone, reports on Democrat candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and their views on fracking.
COMMENT: Let’s listen to all the fracking arguments. Andy Done-Johnson, writing in The Mansfield Chad, says “there are a lot of arguments [about fracking] spinning around here, and we should listen to them all.
29th March 2016
April Drilling Diary: key events in April from DrillOrDrop, including the 5th anniversary of the Preese Hall earthquake.
Fracking study finds toxins in Wyoming town’s groundwater and raises broader concerns. Inside Climate News reports on a study by scientists at Stanford University which finds that hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas operations contaminated groundwater in Pavillion, Wyoming. Town residents began complaining of tainted drinking water in the 1990s, as oil and gas development boomed in the area. The Environmental Protection Agency released a draft study in 2011 indicating that oil and gas activities contaminated the town’s water. But after blistering criticism from industry and Wyoming politicians, the EPA shut down its probe in 2013 and turned over sampling to state regulators. The state’s studies have so far found no proof of contamination. The study identified chemicals in the water related to substances used in local fracking operation and acid stimulation. They also found energy companies frequently fracked at much shallower depths than previously thought. Stanford News
28th March 2016
INEOS hopeful fracking will get the green light in Scotland. Energy Voice reports comments by Jim Ratcliffe, owner of INEOS, that his company’s position on fracking would be vindicated by new research which means fracking could be permitted next year. Edinburgh Evening News and Herald Scotland
Fracking ban “barrier to north east’s growth”. The Press and Journal reports comments by Ross Thomson, Scottish Conservative candidate for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, that the SNP’s ban on fracking is putting the future of the north east as a world leader in energy at risk. Energy Voice
Rebecca Evans welcomes extension of fracking moratorium. Welsh Labour’s prospective candidate for Gower in the Assembly elections, said the party “has set out a clear energy policy which includes support for a mix of renewable, green, sustainable energy production, and is working to move us to a low carbon economy.”
YP Letters: Fracking. Who should decide? Ministers or councils? Paul Morgan, writing in The Yorkshire Post, says fracking decision-making raises “an interesting question about democracy”. He said: “he Government was elected by popular mandate less than a year ago with a commitment to pursue fracking in its manifesto. The question is does that democratic mandate extend to overriding local democratically expressed opposition?”
Induced earthquakes increase chances of damaging shaking, wastewater disposal from fracking primary cause. EcoWatch reports that the US Geological Survey maps identify potential human induced earthquakes for the first time. The report shows that approximately 7 million people live and work in areas of the central and eastern U.S. (CEUS) with potential for damaging shaking from induced seismicity. Within a few portions of the CEUS, the chance of damage from all types of earthquakes is similar to that of natural earthquakes in high-hazard areas of California. Bloomberg Business and Daily Telegraph
Here’s what it costs to drill a shale well these days. Sanchez Energy Corporation reports figures from the US Energy Information Administration on drill and completion costs. Eagle Ford wells averaged $7.6m in 2014 but $6.5m in 2015.
Climate campaigner Bill McKibben’s misleading anti-fracking crusade. Before It’s News reports on comments rebutting Bill McKibben’s article in The Nation (23rd March 2016) opposing fracking because of methane leaks. It quotes Ted Nordhaus, a founder of the Breakthrough Institute think tank who says McKibben has failed to cite a study which attributes methane increases to biological sources.
Chemicals giant Ineos is moving back to the UK after six years in Switzerland. City Am reports INEOS is moving its global headquarters from Switzerland back to the UK for six years. The company moved to Rolle just outside Geneva in 2010, cutting £100m off its annual tax bill. The then government would not let INEOS put off a £35m VAT payment. The Daily Mail quotes the firm’s founder, Jim Ratcliffe: “We will finish up back in the UK within the next three years. We are Brits aren’t we? It’s where we started and it’s where our hearts lie. It was necessary for us to move to Switzerland a few years ago, but now, without question, we have been gravitating back to the UK.”
27th March 2016
What politicians said about fracking before Easter: local decision-making, cost of Scottish shale gas research, protecting protected areas and more. DrillOrDrop report on Fracking Week In Politics.
Who decides about onshore oil and gas? DrillOrDrop weekly newsletter on Byline.com
26th March 2016
New camp puts pressure on Welsh Assembly candidates to ban fracking and promote renewables. DrillOrDrop report
25th March 2016
Wales extends fracking moratorium to underground coal gasification. DrillOrDrop report
24th March 2016
Andrea Leadsom: “Don’t be browbeaten by fracking scaremongering” Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, tells PoliticsHome of fracking: “It is way safer than most industrial processes. We’ve been properly regulating offshore and onshore gas for 50 years and have got the toughest regulations in the world.” ~She acknowledges it has caused some seismic activity “but that’s not the same as an earthquake”. She said: “During the process of the actual hydraulic fracturing, an independent well inspector will be standing at the well head with very sophisticated equipment and in the event that you get seismic activity that is greater than slamming a door or jumping off a ladder then they will call a halt and carry on at another point.” She urges local authorities to think about the local benefits of fracking: “Don’t be brow beaten by very scaremongering accusations into failing to take a decision or making a negative decision.”
Longannet closure marks the end of coal-fired electricity generation in Scotland. Scottish Power announces the closure of Longannet power Station in Fife, signalling the end of coal-fired electricity production in Scotland.
23rd March 2016
Equipment moved off abandoned Lincolnshire well site. DrillOrDrop report about Egdon Resource’s Laughton site.
Campaigners rally in round two of Llanharan drilling fight. DrillOrDrop report about local response to appeal by Coastal Oil and Gas against refusal of permission for unconventional test drilling.
Newport City Council says it has no power to declare the city a frack-free zone following submission of a 1,000 signature petition but it will make the Welsh Government aware of local opinion. DrillOrDrop report (spool down to bottom section of post).
Welsh anti-fracking film shown to MPs. DrillOrDrop report (spool down to bottom section of post) on screening of A River, narrated by Michael Sheen, about opposition to shale drilling in Pontrhydyfen.
First US shale gas sails into Europe as Ineos carrier arrives in Norway. The Guardian reports that Europe has taken its first shipment of shale gas at the INEOS plant in Norway, raising concerns about the future of shale gas and fracking in the UK. Ineos has chartered eight purpose-built vessels which it says will create “a virtual pipeline across the Atlantic” with gas from the Marcellus shale of Western Pennsylvania shipped out via an export terminal near Philadelphia. Energy Voice, Daily Mail
Cuadrilla opens new headquarters. The Clitheroe Advertiser and Times reports Ex England rugby captain, Bill Beaumont, cut the ribbon on Cuadrilla’s new offices in Bamber Bridge. Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla said: “We are delighted now to be headquartered here in Lancashire so that people can see that our commitment to this county runs deep. As we grow and develop our company will increasingly benefit the county in terms of jobs, taxes and community funds bringing many gains for the people of Lancashire. We are grateful so many of our local supporters took the time to joins us for this special occasion.”
Global warming’s terrifying new chemistry. Bill McKibben, writing in The Nation, refers to a report by Harvard researchers which found US methane emissions had increased by more than 30% from 2002-2014. Dan Lashof, former head of the Clean Air Program and the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: “I think this paper shows that US greenhouse-gas emissions may have gone up over the last decade if you focus on the combined short-term-warming impact.” McKibben attributes some of the growth to fracking. He said: “If the Harvard data hold up and we keep on fracking, it will be nearly impossible for the United States to meet its promised goal of a 26 to 28 percent reduction in greenhouse gases from 2005 levels by 2025.”
YP Letters: Decision time for councils on fracking. In a letter to The Yorkshire Post Cllr Mike Potter says the vote by Ryedale District Council against Third Energy’s fracking plans was “based on a deep concern about the risks from this industry to the environment, existing local tourism and agriculture, traffic, noise and light pollution, waste water, air pollution and many others. There was also a deep mistrust of the regulatory regime and promises of ‘Gold Standard Regulation’, with little evidence to back those claims.”
22nd March 2016
Infrastrata losses narrow. Energy Voice reports on InfraStrata’s unaudited accounts for the six months ending 31st January 2016. The loss for the period was £254,782, compared with £599,048 in the previous year.
21st March 2016
Fracking Week in Politics. New-style digest of fracking debates and questions from DrillOrDrop, now including the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies.
Oil up on Cushing crude drawdown; eyes on U.S. output. Reuters reports oil prices rose about 1 percent after data showed crude inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub for U.S. futures fell for the first time since January, and ahead of the expiration of the U.S. front-month contract. Oil’s upside, however, was limited by concerns that U.S. energy companies could ramp up drilling again after a two-month long recovery in crude prices, analysts said.
Greens urge government to rethink “reckless and unnecessary” fracking plans. The Green Party reports that its groups in Sussex are urging government ministers to halt their plans to remove decision-making powers from local authorities on new fracking sites.
US shale already setting UK gas prices, say analysts. The Daily Telegraph reports the US shale revolution may already be capping the price of gas in the UK, months before the first gas exports are set to arrive at European terminals. Data from Jefferies energy market analysts shows that the price of summer gas in the UK has fallen in line with the estimated cost of exporting US liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe.
20th March 2016
Oil chief speaks out about Horse Hill flow testing success. GetSurrey reports that Stephen Sanderson, of UK Oil and Gas has hit out at protesters for “scaremongering”, claiming they “prey upon the local population”. He also claimed the company had nothing to hide at the well site near Gatwick airport.
Sea gas extraction fears remain, despite firm’s collapse. The East Lothian Courier reports on fears about potential coal gas extraction from under the sea at Musselburgh, despite Five Quarter, the company behind the plan, going out of business. Local Green campaigner Jason Rose has called for an immediate permanent ban on underground coal gasification (UCG), claiming the community was still “vulnerable to dangerous and unnecessary drilling experiments”.
19th March 2016
Cuadrilla fracking inquiry: review of key planning policy issues. DrillOrDrop report
National need versus local impact. DrillOrDrop summary of key planning arguments
West Lothian could home over 1000 fracking wells. The Daily Record reports a warning from Friends of the Earth Scotland that West Lothian will be overrun by fracking companies unless the Scottish Government bans the practice. At a meeting in Linlithgow Burgh Halls last week, the organisation said tourism, farming and fishing would suffer. Up to nine shale gas companies have applied for fracking licences in West Lothian.
18th March 2016
Fund opens in memory of Steve Becker, Radio Lancashire reporter. DrillOrDrop report
Climate change will be integral to the EIA process. ENDS Reports says a new directive will require Environmental Impact Assessments to integrate systematically climate change mitigation measures from 2017. Projects will have to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions associated with their development. They will have to address project vulnerability and resilience to climate uncertainties.
Campaigners call for fracking block in Newport. The South Wales Argus reports Friends of the Earth Newport visited Newport City Council offices to hand in a petition against fracking signed by more than 1,000 people. Councils in Monmouthshire and elsewhere in Wales have already agreed to ban the practice and the group has called on Newport to follow their example.
UK shale plays report: prospectivity, resource potential and acreage ranking. Novas Consulting announces a review of UK shale resource estimates. The company describes the study, completed in August 2014, as “the only independent and authoritative assessment of UK shale potential based on full cycle analysis using a rigorous subsurface approach to resource estimation and risk analysis”.
17th March 2016
With the closure of the Cuadrilla fracking inquiry, what happens now? DrillOrDrop report on timetable for decision
16th March 2016
Five reflections on Cuadrilla’s fracking inquiry. DrillOrDrop report
Steve Becker: BBC Radio Lancashire journalist dies on way to fracking inquiry. BBC News reports the death of Steve Becker on his way to report from the Cuadrilla fracking inquiry in Blackpool. He had covered every day of the hearings. He was reportedly taken ill on the M6 this morning. Aziz Rashid, head of regional and local programming for the BBC in the North West, said: “Steve worked for the BBC for more than 30 years and has friends and former colleagues right across the organisation. He will be much missed by so many people but especially the team at Radio Lancashire, where he was such a vital part of the newsroom. He emailed me only yesterday to discuss his plans to cover the latest developments in the story of fracking in Lancashire. He had become a real authority on the issue.”
AJ Lucas Suspension from official quotation. The Australian Securities Exchange reports one of Cuadrilla’s funders, the Australian mining company, AJ Lucas, has requested the immediate suspension of it shares pending an announcement of a proposed equity raising. The request said the suspension was not expected to last beyond 21st March 2016.
IGas Energy Plc cuts production costs to $24 per barrel. Proactive Investors reports on IGas financial figures for the year ended 31st December. The company has cut costs from $34.6 to $24.6 a barrel. But revenue fell to £25.1m, down from £58.2m the year before. Earnings were £18.3m, down from £21.6m. The group made a profit of £5.2m in 2014 but made a loss of £44.8m in 2015, much of it down to impairments and write-offs.
15th March 2016
Breaking: Ryedale District Council recommends refusal of Third Energy fracking plan at Kirby Misperton. DrillOrDrop
What happens on final day of Cuadrilla fracking inquiry? DrillOrDrop preview
Mark Ruffalo and Colin Firth lead celebrity open letter telling David Cameron to stand up against fracking. Mirror reports Mark Ruffalo, Colin Firth and Vivienne Westwood are among celebrities to have written an open letter to David Cameron urging him not to allow his government to impose fracking on communities that have already rejected it.
Politicians line up to oppose fracking. The Blackpool Gazette reports that Plans to develop a shale gas industry on the Fylde has come under fire politically. Lib’s Dems voted at their spring conference to ban fracking. Blackpool South Labour MP, Gordon Marsden, said the public inquiry into Cuadrilla’s plans to frack in Fylde should be rejected.
Climate change deal: ‘Zero carbon’ laws promised by government. BBC News reports the government has promised to tighten climate laws to cut carbon emissions to virtually zero. Ministers have said current targets to cut emissions by 80% by 2050 do not go far enough. No details of the change in the law have been given and critics have said the UK is failing to meet current targets.
Should fracking decisions be made locally? Jim Watson, Research Director of the UK Energy Research Centre, writing for OilVoice, says government intentions to constrain local planning processes has led to concerns about local democracy. He said: While national government may emphasise a particular course of action, like the development of shale gas, there is no guarantee that local decision-makers will simply agree. Furthermore, selective limits on local planning risk exacerbating public mistrust.
Horse Hill oil drilling site ‘tanker protest’ sees five people charged. Get Surrey reports five people have been charged with various offences after a protest involving a tanker near the Horse Hill site on 11th March. They are due to appear before Redhill Magistrates court on 4th and 11th April.
Energy minister fails to rule out fracking during opposition grilling. STV reports Scottish Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, did not rule out fracking when twice asked at Holyrood. He has pledged to publish a draft energy strategy by the end of the year. Press and Journal
Fracking meeting a success says organiser. The Barnsley Chronicle reports that a meeting organised by Frack Free Dearne Valley attached about 50 people.
14th March 2016
Final arguments as Cuadrilla fracking inquiry draws to a close. DrillOrDrop report
Fracking Week in Westminster. DrillOrDrop report on what politicians have been saying about fracking in the past seven days.
Ilona Amos: No future for fossil fuels or fracking. Ilona Amos, writing in The Scotsman, says the latest figures have revealed that worldwide levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose more steeply in the past 12 months than any time since records began over half a century ago. This highlights the urgent need to curb emissions on a planetary scale, she says. Fracking and how to deliver carbon reductions could be key for many voters in May, she concludes.
Will fracking trigger a sharp increase in emissions? Energy Live News discusses the findings of the Environmental Integrity Project which concludes that fracking-related industrial growth could lead to a sharp increase in greenhouse gas emissions. See our Resources page for details of this report and others.
As it happened: INEOS chief answers readers’ fracking questions. The Knutsford Guardian reports on a Q&A between Tom Pickering, of INEOS Shale, and readers.
13th March 2016
Officials seek to ban Sunday fracking in key vote on Yorkshire shale gas plan. DrillOrDrop report on Kirby Misperton vote next week.
We stand by our conclusions on methane emissions and fracking. Professor Nick Cowern, in a letter to the FT, defends the paper that he and Dr Robin Russell-Jones submitted on increasing atmospheric methane to the Committee on Climate Change. He said: “Taking into account the best oil and gas methane data currently available, and data from coal production, we concluded that methane emissions from the fracking industry are high enough to reverse the supposed benefit of natural gas over coal”.
Fresh fears that fracking is back on the agenda. The Fermanagh Herald reports that the fracking threat is still “very much alive and well” after it emerged that Tamboran Resources has applied to the High Court to challenge Northern Ireland’s Strategic Planning Policy Statement, which included a presumption against fracking. This is the third application for judicial review proceedings from Tamboran since its licence was terminated in 2014, with the other two still ongoing.
12th March 2016
Recent research round-up – March 2016. DrillOrDrop review of the latest research on fracking and shale gas
Liberal Democrat Conference votes in favour of fracking ban. Liberal Democrat Voice reports the spring conference in York voted to ban fracking in England. Delegates voted out an amendment proposed by former Energy and climate change secretary Sir Edward Davey which called for the regulation of the current exploratory stage and for an independent review of the evidence into the role that shale gas can play. His motion was opposed by Baroness Lynne Featherstone, the party’s current energy spokesperson. Yorkshire Post report
Arrests made after Horse Hill protest. The Surrey Mirror reports two arrests were made at Horse Hill, near Gatwick, on 11th March after a man climbed on top of a tanker. The road was closed for several hours.
Fracking to prompt sharp rise in greenhouse gas emissions, study says. The Independent reports a study by the Environmental Integrity Project, “Greenhouse Gases from a Growing Petrochemical Industry”, concluded that fracking is set to lead to a sharp rise in emissions of climate changing greenhouse gases. This will, it says, undermine claims that shale gas is a relatively clean fuel that can help combat global warming.
Families protest at fracking hearing. The Lytham Express reports that families, children and a 6ft rabbit were among protesters outside Blackpool Football Club for the 18th day of the public inquiry into fracking. The paper also reports on the closing statements of half the groups taking part in the inquiry.
Staff and animals at Horse Hill equestrian centre ‘feeling unsafe’ as drilling debate rages. Get Surrey reports that volunteers say an equestrian centre next to the Horse Hill drilling site near Horley has been ruined and they have growing fears for the health of the animals. Four people have had nosebleeds, two of whom have never had them before, while one described headaches. Two horses in particular are suffering runny noses and eyes. Alex Gaché, who owns the 32-year-old business and also lives on site, said: “We are left feeling unsafe – we don’t know what the future holds.”
Huge numbers of police deal with oil protest close to Gatwick Airport. The Crawley News reports two people were arrested after a protest yesterday (Friday) afternoon at Horse Hill, at the junction where the road meets the A217, the main road between Crawley and Reigate. At least one protester climbed on top of a tanker, as a group made their feelings known about oil testing taking place off Horse Hill.
11th March 2016
Live updates of closing statements to Cuadrilla fracking inquiry – Day 18. DrillOrDrop report covering statements from Newton-with-Clifton parish council, Preston New Road Action Group, North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and Friends of the Earth and picture of rally outside the inquiry.
Frack rally plan as inquiry nears end. The Blackpool Gazette reports anti-fracking protesters are set to mark the end of the public inquiry into Cuadrilla’s bid to test frack at two sites on the Fylde with a rally at Blackpool Football Club.
Nicola Sturgeon ‘highly sceptical’ about fracking. BBC News reports Nicola Sturgeon has again said she is “highly sceptical” about fracking, but no decision on whether it should be banned will be taken before next year. The Scottish first minister was speaking ahead of the SNP conference, which will be held in Glasgow over the weekend.
‘Absolute chaos’ as police shut Horse Hill, near Horley. The Surrey Mirror reports Horse Hill, where oil
Council’s secret meeting with gas firm. The Driffield Times & Post reports criticism of Driffield Town Council for agreeing to a private meeting with Cuadrilla, which has licences to explore in the area. The council said it had been advised it was “completely legal” for councillors to hold an “informal meeting” with the company. But Frack Free East Yorkshire emailed the council with guidelines for council meetings, which said “informal meetings” should be avoided because they risk bringing councils into disrepute.
High Peak councillors give the thumbs down to fracking. The Buxton Advertiser reports borough councillors passed a motion against unconventional gas exploration and extraction in the High Peak by 20 votes to 19. Cllr Ed Kelly, who proposed the motion, tells the paper: “The government needs to put an end to it now.”
10th March 2016
10 year old urges PM and Queen to stop fracking- Cuadrilla fracking inquiry. DrillOrDrop report
Live updates of public statements to Cuadrilla fracking inquiry – Day 17. DrillOrDrop report
Swansea Council agrees to make fracking opposition official policy by adding to the development plan. DrillOrDrop report
Pennsylvania families win $4.2m fracking lawsuit. Reuters report that a federal jury ruled that Cabot Oil & Gas must pay more than $4.2m in damages to two families in north eastern Pennsylvania who said the company’s fracking operations contaminated their groundwater.
Conference anti-fracking demo a ‘major embarrassment’ to Sturgeon, claims Labour. The Herald Scotland reports members of the SNP Members Against Unconventional Oil and Gas (SMAUG) group will join with other organisations in an anti-fracking rally in Glasgow event at the weekend to call for a total fracking ban in Scotland. Scottish Labour says it is a “major embarrassment” to Scotland’s first minister and SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon. Sarah Boyack, Scottish Labour’s environment spokeswoman, says: “Nicola Sturgeon needs to give a straight answer: if the research comes back saying fracking is safe, will she lift her temporary delay?”
Politicians must stop dithering over energy. James Allan, in a letter to The Telegraph, says the UK needs to start fracking for gas and building a new fleet of new combined cycle gas fire power stations, along with new pressurised water nuclear power stations.
South Downs National Park calls for tighter ‘fracking’ controls. The Midhurst and Petworth Observer reports members of the South Downs National Park Authority said they needed to spell out policies on fracking as they shape their joint minerals local plan to cover the next 25 years. They were concerned the government had not yet confirmed its commitments to safeguard protected areas. Officers have been asked to rewrite policies in the draft plan.
Ineos makes first shale shipment to Europe. Energy Voice reports the Ineos Intrepid has made a landmark departure, carrying the first shale shipment from the United States to Europe. The world’s largest LNG multi gas carrier, today left the Markus Hook terminal near Philadelphia bound for Rafnes in Norway carrying 27,500m3 of US shale gas ethane.
Regency Mines raises £400, 0000 for Horse Hill expenditure. Proactive Investors reports Regency Mines has announced the share place, priced at 0.6p with new funds earmarked for Horse Hill near Gatwick. It comes a day after Horse Hill’s third and final flow test was confirmed as a success.
9th March 2016
20 key points from conditions discussion at Cuadrilla fracking inquiry. DrillOrDrop report
Live updates from Day 16 of Cuadrilla fracking inquiry – Newton-with-Clifton Parish Council and conditions session DrillOrDrop report
Further update on Horse Hill 1 flow test. UK Oil and Gas Investments announces that 37 degree API light sweet dry crude oil has flowed to surface at an average rate of 168 barrels per day from the Upper Portland sandstone interval at 615m. The company said the well has now produced at a combined average stable rate of over 1,528bopd from the Kimmeridge and Upper Portland zones.
SNP members plan major anti-fracking protest at their own conference. Herald Scotland reports on a major anti-fracking demonstration at the SNP conference this weekend. Demonstrators are expected to form a human chain from Glasgow’s SECC where the spring conference takes place on Saturday.
We shouldn’t be developing the fossil fuel industry at this point. Cathy Monkley, in a letter to The Hereford Times, says: “It would be counter to the Paris Agreement and dangerous for our atmosphere to be developing a new fossil fuel industry at this point.”
8th March 2016
Live updates on opponents’ statements about Cuadrilla’s fracking plans – day 15. DrillOrDrop report
Live updates on supporters’ statements about Cuadrilla’s fracking plans – day 15. DrillOrDrop report
“Elderly people need core sleep but they are not going to get it”, Cuadrilla fracking inquiry told. DrillOrDrop report on key points from Day 15.
Live updates from Cuadrilla fracking inquiry Day 15 – Preston New Road Action Group evidence. DrillOrDrop report
Oklahoma wants cuts to fracking wastewater injection to curb earthquakes. CBC News reports state regulators in central Oklahoma have asked oil and gas producers to reduce their wastewater disposal to try to temper the sharp increase in the number and severity of earthquakes.
Fracking inquiry hears dispute over noise level. The Blackpool Gazette reports evidence from Mike Stigwood, noise expert for Preston New Road Action Group that noise from the proposed shale gas site would cause annoyance and sleep disturbance to people living nearby.
7th March 2016
Final full week for Cuadrilla fracking inquiry – what’s happening when in Week 5? DrillOrDrop report preview of this week’s sessions at the public inquiry in Blackpool into Cuadrilla’s fracking plans
Fracking Week in Westminster and Holyrood – w/e 4th March 2016. DrillOrDrop review of parliamentary discussions and questions about fracking and onshore oil and gas
Scottish Labour accuses SNP of links to fracking industry. The Scotsman reports Deputy First Minister John Swinney has held further talks with fracking industry representatives since the SNP announced their moratorium on the controversial drilling technique more than a year ago. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs last week that fracking in Scotland “ain’t allowed to happen”. Buy Labour has published documents that made public talks Mr Swinney had held with Ineos director Tom Crotty on 15 April last year, just three months after Ms Sturgeon announced a moratorium on fracking.
6th March 2016
Mind the gap: Cuadrilla fracking inquiry exposes loophole in shale gas waste regulations. Plus other fracking news in DrillOrDrop’s weekly newsletter on Byline.com
Greens urge SNP to declare outright ban on fracking. Herald Scotland reports the Scottish Green co-convener, Patrick Harvie, challenged SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to abandon her government’s research into fracking and declare an outright ban.
Hillary Clinton, who used to sell fracking around the world, denounces fracking at debate. Slate.com reports on the latest debate of Democratic presidential hopefuls. Hillary Clinton was asked if she supported fracking. She replied: I don’t support it when any locality or any state is against it, number one. I don’t support it when the release of methane or contamination of water is present. I don’t support it, number three, unless we can require that anybody who fracks has to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using,” Leading opponent, Bernie Sanders, replied: “My answer is a lot shorter. No. I do not support fracking.”
Baker Hughes Rig Count: New drilling falls for 11th week in a row in the Eagle Ford Shale Journal reports new drilling activity fell for the 11th week in a row in the US Eagle Ford as crude prices remained at $30 a barrel.
5th March 2016
Fracking could be behind startling increase in US methane surge, experts say. The Independent reports research from Harvard University has revealed a 30% increase in methane in the past decade. They cannot readily attribute the rise to a particular source but point out that US shale gas production increased nine times in the same period.
Do not expect an early announcement on fracking position. In a letter to Herald Scotland, Keith Howell writes “the First Minister has no intention of telling us what she really thinks before the May election.” He suggests the SNP has already made up its mind about fracking and is unsure how best to spin the conclusions of its research study.
Scottish Lib Dems make U-turn on fracking by supporting ban. BBC News reports Scottish Liberal Democrats are to campaign for a ban on fracking despite a conference vote calling for current restrictions to be lifted. Delegates to last week’s party gathering passed an amendment to end the Scottish government’s moratorium. But now the party’s policy committee has reversed the decision and a ban on fracking will appear in its manifesto.
Chesapeake Energy founder Aubrey McClendon’s legacy of fracking has left the world worse off. Independent reports McClendon had seen his career collapse almost overnight having built an industry on the back of triple-digit per barrel oil.
4th March 2016
Live updates from Cuadrilla fracking inquiry Day 14. DrillOrDrop report on evidence from Roseacre residents
Cuadrilla’s Roseacre fracking plans a “personal tragedy” for local people, inquiry told, plus other key points from Day 14. DrillOrDrop report
Herald View: Unacceptable secrecy over the future of fracking. Herald Scotland asks “What on earth is the SNP’s true position on fracking? On the one hand, party HQ produces green banners emblazoned with the words “Frack Off”; on the other, the billionaire seeking to establish fracking in Scotland says he has received private assurances from the SNP that the party is not opposed to the process.” It adds: We do not know precisely what was said at that meeting between the First Minister and Ineos, but no party can get away with telling business one thing and protestors another. Every other party at Holyrood has a clear and unequivocal policy on fracking – it is time the SNP had one too.”
Ineos warns Scotland will pass up chance of economic lifeline if fracking banned. OilandGasPeople.com reports an INEOS spokesman said gas offered Scotland a “once in a generation opportunity to secure much needed jobs and investment across the nation.” He added: “At our Grangemouth plant, the decline in indigenous gas from the North Sea means we are now having to import shale gas from America. As North Sea reserves decline further, Scottish shale gas offers us the real prospect of picking up this slack and helping with the nation’s economic and energy needs for years to come.
Is fracking really such a bad idea? The Mansfield Chad talks to Tom Pickering of INEOS. He tells the paper: “We believe shale gas could play an important part in providing us with the energy that could power the nation into the future and help reduce CO2 emissions”. He adds: Our approach to this will be cautious, and science-based. We are going to work very hard with local communities to explain ourselves and the science behind what we do.”
Two Dimock families, Cabot fight on over fracking and tainted water. Philly.com reports on the court case by two families who held out against Cabot Oil & Gas in a dispute over water contamination. The website says the testimony of the families has been confined to narrow legal questions. Their star witness has been Anthony Ingraffea of Cornwell University, who has published research on contamination from fracking wells. The website says he has been portrayed by Carbot’s lawyers as having little experience in the oil and gas industry.
3rd March 2016
Major accident likely at 18 points on lorry route to Cuadrilla’s Roseacre Wood site, inquiry told. DrillOrDrop report on transport evidence on Day 13
Cuadrilla likely to breach noise conditions at Roseacre Wood, fracking inquiry hears. DrillOrDrop report on noise evidence from Day 13, including “people will become more sensitive, not less, to drilling noise.
Live updates from day 13 of public inquiry into Cuadrilla’s plans to frack in Lancashire – Roseacre residents’ evidence. DrillOrDrop report
Energy policy U-turns ‘may cost households £120 a year’. The Guardian covers the report by the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee which says changes in government energy policy since the last election have chased off investors and may have added £120 a year to household bills. The report says future domestic and business power bills may be higher than necessary as a result of changes including U-turns on funding onshore windfarms and energy efficiency schemes. Link to report
Woman offering tea and cakes at Horse Hill protest site ‘threatened with arrest’. Get Surrey reports grandmother Linda Foord offered tea and cake to police and protesters at the Horse Hill drilling site near Horley has claimed she was threatened with arrest. She said was expecting “a smile and a bit of gratitude” when she made the gesture during a gathering on February 23.
Fear of Fracking: earthquakes linked to shale gas exploration cause house prices to fall. Bristol University says its research concluded fear of fracking can have negative effects on the UK housing market around shale gas sites. The research team, from the University of Bristol, the London School of Economics and Duke University in North Carolina, carried out a study that found licensing and exploration had minimal impacts on house prices. However, two highly publicised minor earthquakes linked to exploratory fracking near Blackpool in 2011 caused a three to four per cent reduction in house prices nearby.
McClendon was an evangelist for shale gas long before the boom and bust. Bloomberg Business reports on the death of Aubrey McClendon (2nd March) in a single-car accident a day after he was indicted for rigging bids of oil and gas leases. The site says McClendon, former head of Chesapeake Energy, was an evangelist for fracking but the company was dogged by lawsuits and criticisms of its practices.
Fracking pressure group take their argument to the House of Lords. The Ross Gazette reports Frack off our Forest met the energy minister, Lord Bourne, and other Government officials in the House of Lords in February. They put their argument that the Forest of Dean was unsuitable for coal bed methane exploration.
Questions raised over SNP fracking stance. BBC News reports that Nicola Sturgeon has insisted “there will be no fracking” as Labour claimed the SNP were preparing to “give the green light” to the technique. Scottish Labour has declared itself firmly behind banning unconventional extraction of oil and gas. Daily Express, Daily Record
Five-quarter North Sea gas extraction firm collapses. BBC News reports Five-Quarter Energy, which has licences to extract shale gas from coal deposits under the North Sea, has ceased trading. It had been expected to create hundreds of jobs and qualified for a £15m Regional Growth Fund grant and infrastructure guarantee worth £1.1bn from the treasury. The company blamed financial difficulties. Herald Scotland
Activists angry at fracking claims. The Salisbury Journal reports that Keep Wiltshire Frack Free described as ‘completely erroneous’ comments by Wiltshire County Councillor , Stuart Wheeler, who said fracking on Salisbury Plain was ‘not dissimilar’ to conventional oil drilling in Hampshire and Dorset.
2nd March 2016
Environment Agency “washed its hands” of available waste treatment, inquiry told + other key points from Day 12.DrillOrDrop report
Health case against shale gas exploration is convincing, expert tells fracking inquiry + key health issues from Day 12 DrillOrDrop report
Live updates from day 12 of public inquiry into Cuadrilla’s plans to frack in Lancashire DrillOrDrop report
Cuadrilla fracking inquiry – what’s happening in Week 4? DrillOrDrop preview of evidence coming up this week
February 2016 fracking headlines. DrillOrDrop review of last month’s news about fracking and onshore oil and gas
Ex-Chesapeake CEO dies a day after indictment The FT reports on the death of Aubrey McClendon, founder and former head of Chesapeake Energy.
Feedback from the frack as four regulatory authorities talk to concerned residents. The Knutsford Guardian reports The Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive, Oil and Gas Authority and Public Health England staff hosted an ‘informal information’ session at Knutsford’s Curzon Cinema to discuss fracking concerns with Cheshire residents. About 50 people attended.
Upton-by-Chester could be targeted for fracking after all. The Chester Chronicle reports that Tom Pickering, operations director of INEOS Shale told the paper the Duttons Lane site could be revised to frack for gas from shale, below the abandoned coal bed methane layer. INEOS has farmed into the licence area, where IGas is the operator. Asked if the Upton site might come back on the agenda in the search for shale gas, Mr Pickering responded: “Perfectly reasonable to assume that. Absolutely.”
New dash for gas to head off blackouts: More power stations to be built amidst fears of shortage. The Mail reports on changes to the capacity market which, it says, will lead to more gas fired power stations.
US fracking film in Falkirk. The Falkirk Herald reports on a screening of Groundswell Rising, at Trinity Church on Sunday 6thMarch.
1st March 2016
IGas accused of “disregarding” planning system in Notts and “irresponsible” actions in Cheshire. DrillOrDrop report
Lawyer considers compensation case for properties damaged by seismic testing. DrillOrDrop report
Tycoon told Sturgeon of ‘shale revolution’ as minister unveiled fracking moratorium. The Herald Scotland reports that Nicola Sturgeon was being lobbied over the benefits of a shale gas revolution by Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire boss of INEOS and the Grangemouth petrochemical plant. They met at the same time that the Scottish government was announcing a moratorium at Holyrood. The paper says the company told the SNP that it “understood though didn’t agree with current public opinion on fracking and agreed to engage with Sturgeon on her new policy.
Battle to win hearts and minds in shale gas debate. Tom Pickering, director of INEOS Shale, is interviewed by The Yorkshire Post. He says “Our consultation and engagement with the community starts now, not in the future at the point of frack… A natural gas development will not only create jobs, but it will sustain existing local industry, which relies on the… provision of power, and of ethane to make products.” He says INEOS conducts its operations without ruining the view or disrupting life nearby.
Andrea Leadsom: Yorkshire should welcome frackers with open arms. Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, writing in The Yorkshire Post, says “Shale gas is a fantastic opportunity for Yorkshire. It would create a significant number of local jobs meaning financial security for hard working people and their families, boost our economy and strengthen our energy security.” She says it is not a choice about whether we want or don’t want gas it is about where it comes from.
“Taking the stress” out of fracking. The British Geological Survey reports its scientists have published what it calls “ground-breaking” research that will reduce the risk of earthquakes and borehole damage caused by fracking. The BGS is calling for all shale gas wells to be logged by borehole imaging tools to better understand in-situ stress. The organisation’s Professor Mike Stephenson said the new technique can highlight parts of boreholes that may contain evidence of stress that is already present in rocks before fracking”
Further update on Horse Hill 1 flow test. UK Oil & Gas Investments PLC, one of the companies with an interest in the Horse Hill well near Gatwick, announces more results from the flow test of the Upper Kimmeridge limestone interval. The company says 100% dry, 40-degree API, light, sweet oil has flowed freely to the surface at a rate of more than 900 barrels per day from an 88 foot aggregate perforated zone, approximately 840 meters below ground level. Rigzone , Proactive Investors and Evening Standard reports
At last, U.S. shale firms see output falling, but is it enough? Reuters reports that US shale producers are predicting 5.6% falls in output for this year but less than some analysts had forecast.
70% of Scots ‘want renewable energy made government priority’. The Courier reports on a poll which found 70% of Scots want more energy produced from wind, solar, wave and tidal power. 19% want shale gas fracking to be prioritised and 33% want nuclear to be a priority.
“Reforms to Capacity Market to improve energy security for families and businesses”. A press release from the Department of Energy and Climate Change announces changes to the electricity capacity market, which the government says will “prove the system used to secure reliable sources of electricity capacity, tackle decades of underinvestment and safeguard the future security of our energy supply for generations to come.” The press release says the reforms set out plans to buy more electricity capacity and buy it earlier, encouraging more investment in the energy system. “This will mean, it says”, new energy infrastructure can be built, in particular new gas fired power stations.
Pupils show off their skills in engineering competition. The Blackpool Gazette reports on the fourth annual Young Engineers competition, organised by the paper and sponsored by Cuadrilla Resources and Centrica Energy. The winner, Fleetwood High School, won £10,000, presented by Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan.
Natural Gas Now: Pro-fracking blog coverage of the trial of two Dimock families versus Cabot Oil & Gas over allegations of contamination of water by methane. Also MarcellusDrilling.com and Joint Landowners Coalition