Third Energy’s John Dewar looks forward to his “crowning glory” at Kirby Misperton

John Dewar

Third Energy’s John Dewar

Three weeks today could see the approval of the first shale gas well to be fracked in the UK since 2011.

Third Energy’s proposal to hydraulically  fracture the existing KM8 well at Kirby Misperton goes before members of North Yorkshire County Council’s planning committee.

The company’s operations director, John Dewar, was sounding confident this week that his scheme would be approved.

Speaking in Scarborough at an invitation-only seminar, he said of KM8:

“This is probably my last opportunity. My crowning glory. I was one of the founders of this oil and gas company and so it’s now giving me the opportunity to put a lot back.”

With Cuadrilla’s plans to frack in Lancashire still being considered by a planning inspector, Third Energy could be the first company to frack since the process caused an earthquake five years ago.

Mr Dewar said:

“It wasn’t by design that it looks like we’re going to be the first company to do a frack in the UK. We were quite happy to follow in the wake of Cuadrilla but that is not going to happen. And it looks like we are now centre stage of this industry to do the first frack in the UK.”

At one point in a presentation he said he was hoping for a good result and, if he got it, the well would be fracked in the third or fourth quarter of the year. But later, answering questions from the audience, he gave the impression that he felt permission was a foregone conclusion and that the frack would go ahead. What he wasn’t predicting was the outcome of the operation:

“We’ve picked from the logs, from the cores, we’ve picked five zones that we think have great interest that we’d like to frack. So positivity, I don’t want to display it, I don’t want to jump our gun, let’s just keep it inside for the time being and you’ll know before the end of the year, I hope, whether, how successful we’re going to be.”

“I love this industry”

John Dewar described himself as working in the oil and gas industry “boy and man”.

“As a boy I went on a drilling rig in Holland and from that day onwards I was hooked. I’ve been in the industry ever since. It’s now over 40 years.”

Before Third and Moorland Energy, he worked with Shell, the Shell start-up Swellfix, and BG.

“I have really loved this industry”, he says. “I have given it everything and it’s given me a lot back. And I would love for your children and your friends to have the same wonderful experiences and career opportunities that I’ve had.”

But not everyone loves the idea of a fracking industry in Ryedale. In 2014, when the company announced it would be applying to frack in North Yorkshire the then local MP, Anne McIntosh, said:

“I am at a loss to understand how Third Energy have suddenly developed the technology, when they gave me an assurance within the last year that they themselves neither had the technology nor any intention of hydraulically fracking at depth anywhere in Ryedale.”

There have now been more than 3,000 formal objections to the Kirby Misperton application. Ryedale District Council recommended refusal and there have been objections from town councils at Malton, Norton on Derwent and Helmsley, as well as the parish councils of Habton, Rillington, Great and Little Baugh, Kirby Misperton, Marishes and Normanby.

“Scaremongering and myths”

Mr Dewar blamed what he calls “scaremongering and myths” for the opposition. During the seminar, he discounted concerns about toxic or radioactive flowback water, earthquakes, pollution, water consumption, and industrialisation. They were myths that were being debunked, one by one, he said. “The truth will out”.

He said he could prove mathematically that the risk of fracking fluids reaching the aquifer was 1×10-13. “For those of you who aren’t mathematicians that’s a very, very, very, very, very small number”, he said.

To make his point that Ryedale would not be industrialised, he compared the impact of a well pad with wind turbines or solar panels.

“One well pad – and we’ve got lots of them round our area and you wouldn’t even know where they are because they are hidden – is the equivalent to 87 wind turbines and not small ones. These are big ones.  These are 2 ½ to 3 ½ megawatt wind turbines – massive structures. And they are equivalent to 1.25m solar panels. So what would you sooner have: 87 wind turbines or one 2ha well pad?”

Mr Dewar didn’t go into detail about the source of the data behind his comparison. But Third Energy’s spokesperson told DrillOrDrop the numbers came from a blog written in August 2014 by Professor Sir David MacKay. He assumed a hypothetical shale gas pad with 10 wells that would produce gas capable of generating 9.5 terawatt hours of electricity over 25 years. The comparison didn’t take account of the land area needed by a gas-fired power station and it assumed a drilling rig of 26m, smaller than the rigs proposed by Cuadrilla in Lancashire (53m drilling rig and 36m workover rig).

“Any lie gets spread so easily”

Mr Dewar also blamed Gasland, the documentary about communities in US fracking areas, for encouraging opposition to the industry. He alleged the film contained faked scenes and had not been challenged.

“We’ve let that film be made and we didn’t take any action on it. We should have jumped on it right there and then. It’s grown arms and legs and we’ve all suffered as a result.”

“Any lie gets spread so easily, so quickly, so powerfully and it hurts us. And we take it.”

“That’s the way we are. I’d sooner spend my time and energy in doing things right instead of defending the things that are wrong against us. It’s just not in our DNA.”

Mr Dewar alleged: “I asked the prominent anti-fracker why he lied so much and he said ‘because we have to’.”

We asked Third Energy’s spokesperson when and where this conversation took place and who the person was. The spokesperson said: “Third Energy will not be commenting on this”.

“Trust me”

The industry, in contrast, was different, Mr Dewar said. “We always say the truth. And we don’t lie because we don’t need to lie”, he said.

He painted for his audience a reassuring picture of a shale gas industry: “the best regulations in the world”, “very competent set of regulators”, “an excellent safety and environmental track record”, and “statistics to back up all that”.

 “If we can’t do it safely, trust me, we don’t do it. So when people say can you do this safely, of course we can, we wouldn’t be doing it otherwise.”

To a member of the audience who questioned the economics of shale gas, he said:

“I don’t think you or anyone else needs to worry about the economics of an oil and gas company. That’s our concern. If it’s uneconomic in the longer term that will come out. And our shareholders will eventually stop us.”

“But we’re an industry that is used to spending millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions and even thousands of millions of pounds in exploration and appraisal to determine what the long-term opportunities are there. That’s the nature of our business. So if we spend around £10 million on an exploration well that’s on our cost.”

He said people also didn’t need to worry about what would happen if there were problems. Under the obligations of the licence the site had to be cleaned up and restored, he said. But in his answer did he also hint at the possibility of takeover?

“We have insurance. As long as we’re there, or anyone else who takes us over, as the licence holder they will have to maintain and fulfil the obligations of that licence.”

“If we’re not going to be successful, one of the four, five companies close down, so be it. But as long as the gas is there the opportunity is there, others will step in to our shoes and move the industry forward.”

“Fracking is political”

Mr Dewar also dismissed talk of Yorkshire being a guinea pig for fracking or the need for moratoriums in some European countries. He said:

“Fracking’s become a political arena, not an engineering one. From an engineering point of view, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do it. From a safety point of view, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do it.”

He said countries that had a gas resource and a need for gas would find a way to get it out of the ground safely.

“Right now, we’re being led by politics, pressure groups and various other things.”

“I don’t think there’s one single country on the planet that can put their hands in the air and say from a safety and environmental point of view they are not pursuing shale gas. Because that’s a government that’s lying.”

Transcript of presentation by John Dewar

14 replies »

  1. Why would you not believe an expert in the industry with 40 year experience who has held positions that have been at the top of several sectors in Shell, including overseeing the health and safety. Mr Dewar is not about to kill us all off. How would that benefit his business or his life? Common sense seems to be lost in the debate. It is interesting that a group of amateurs who roam the internet cherry picking information for its scary content rather than its science like to think they know it all. It is a subject that is being used to create fear amongst genuine local residents who may have genuine concerns, but the phoney experts enjoy the distress and fear they can cause because it fits their political agenda.
    Please remember people risk their lives daily so that we can all enjoy power at the flick of a flick of a switch and all the other things we take for granted that hydrocarbons provide us with, medicines, plastics, petrol, textiles, fertilizers etc etc Oil and gas have been the lifeblood of our society for decades and we cannot just stop using them immediately. Time is needed.
    We surely should be showing respect for the families who lost their loved ones yesterday in the tragic helicopter crash ferrying people on and off the North Sea rigs. They risk their lives in the most inhospitable and dangerous places in the world to provide us with the level of comfort and lifestyle WE ALL enjoy. Personally I thank them and their courage for the part they play in making my life better. YOU are all appreciated.

    • Reasons not to believe? Vested interests obviously, (censor this Ruth, an opinion, rat faced egomaniac), looking to earn a nice little bonus by being ‘accidentally’, he hopes, to be the first fracker since Quadzilla @ Preesall, and evoke investment in his Co. for future sell off, Ms Allanson is indutry acolite/ employee, investor maybe, PR Co. all of those and more no doubt, why don’t we trust these corporate lackeys, obvious.

  2. So much sense talked by Mr Dewar, and so much suspicion. Why? We rely on fossil fuels and just expect them to be there.
    Theres no evidence that any harm will arise, and much that it will be safe. I can really understand the comments he has made. He has worked for 40 years in a industry, and is having to defend the basic technology against complaints made by people who wilfully ignore science and evidence. I suppose the same people would be complaining bitterly of the petrol stations ran out of fuel, or we started to get regular power cuts.
    No wonder he finds this all a bit frustrating, especially when he is accused of being a liar all the time, with no evidence.

    • Read the medact/fracking January 2015
      Maybe you will understand our concerns with the future of this industry,
      Then look at what the oil companies have damaged around this planet !

  3. Some people on here must be living in a parallel universe.

    The bad news regarding the dangers of fracking from Professors and Doctors of medicine, science and engineering is relentless, I find it amusing that this gentleman only speaks of the Gasland documentary.

    Such talk as Mr Dewers could only be tolerated behind closed doors with the few like minded people at the Scarbourgh Fracking Conference, far away from the difficult and uncomfortable questions of the wider general public.

  4. ‘To make his point that Ryedale would not be industrialised, he compared the impact of a well pad with wind turbines or solar panels.

    “One well pad – and we’ve got lots of them round our area and you wouldn’t even know where they are because they are hidden – is the equivalent to 87 wind turbines and not small ones. These are big ones. These are 2 ½ to 3 ½ megawatt wind turbines – massive structures. And they are equivalent to 1.25m solar panels. So what would you sooner have: 87 wind turbines or one 2ha well pad?”’

    This is total b*llocks – Google “Fracking Pad” and look at the images and see whether the (devastated) landscape is industrialised or not…

  5. A couple of FFR members who went to PA to research the effects of the industry in the USA admitted that well pads are every 5 miles which are hidden by trees’ in a newspaper interview. A friend who went to one of their film shows said that it was amusing, because the audio on the film of their own voices was often admitting they couldn’t see the devastation that their tour guide was supposed to be showing them. Their guide and fraccing expert? Vera Scroggins, the frack free go to expert on fraccing………..(EXPERT????!!!)
    This couple also keep claiming about compressor stations that will be required and how they will ruin the area. Compressor Stations are only needed if the gas is to be pumped a long distance, the UK is far smaller than the USA. Plus, we already have a vast infrastructure for transporting gas in place. When people complain about pipelines it may interest you to know that the Vale of Pickering has many pipelines subsurface. We have lived with the laying of pipelines since at least the 1970’s in our area. There have been no accidents, explosions and do you know what, you wouldn’t know they are there in terms of affecting the landscape. Of course it makes a mark when they are first laid but the land and environment soon recover back to how they were prior to the pipeline being laid.
    People these days don’t want anything to happen anywhere but expect everything to be readily available everywhere.

  6. Lorraine, your comments are so biased and disingenuous, get real, evidence of the adverse effects of this disgusting industry are being laid bare almost daily in US and Australia, Porter Ranch, they want to approve Gas caverns in N Fylde, why should anyone think that’s a great idea, idiots.

  7. Remove a wind turbine and there is a concrete pad to see, remove the drill infrastructure etc from a fracking well you have still got a well that will leak in the short or long term, with no-one taking accountability

  8. Caroline, your comment is incorrect. Wells plugged and abandoned in accordance with good oilfield practice and UK guidance will not leak “in the short term or long term”. This is particularly the case with shale gas wells due to their poor primary porosity and almost zero permeability – hence “unconventional”. They will be depleted when abandoned, with a column of water / kill fluid above them which exhibits a hydrostatic head significantly greater than the remaining gas pressure in the shale. Simple physics. And there will be several hundred feet of cement and mechanical plugs in the well bore and thousands of feet of cement and steel casing in the annulus. How will they leak / what will they leak?

    In addition to the above comment from someone who has been there and done it many times over a 30 year period, it is worth reading the new University of Glasgow article on shale gas:

    You can download the paper via a link on the page.

    For ever anti issue published there is a scientific article dispelling the anti myths.

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