Daily headlines

April 2016 fracking headlines


Our digest of April’s headlines about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas developments – and reaction to them. Including:

  • Support for shale gas falls to record low in on-going government survey
  • Shale gas bosses gather in Scarborough to promote fracking in Yorkshire while protesters draw a symbolic line in the sand
  • Magellan Petroleum seeks to sell its interest in the Weald
  • IGas prepares to submit planning application for Tinker Lane in Nottingham
  • Evidence of surveillance of anti-fracking campaigners
  • Calls for public inquiry after final Barton Moss anti-fracking trial ends in not-guilty
  • Emma and Sophie Thompson sprayed with manure during Lancashire anti-fracking Bake-Off protest
  • UK MPs receive legal notice on the risks of fracking
  • Academic says there are still gaps in UK fracking regs and minister rejects single regulator
  • Third Energy granted environmental permits for Yorkshire fracking plans. May date set for decision on planning application
  • Fracking protest play sells out in weeks
  • EY predicts Weald oil production could generate £52bn but would need 2,400 wells
  • Questions over industry payments to shale gas communities
  • Last equipment moved off Rathlin Energy’s Crawberry Hill site
  • North Yorkshire calls for mandatory fracking clean-up fund
  • July date set for delivery of Cuadrilla fracking inquiry report
  • IGas acquires new sites near Chester – near earthquake epicentre

 30 April 2016

40+ key events and dates on fracking and onshore oil and gas in DrillOrDrop’s Drilling Diary. Please let us know if we’ve missed your event by getting in touch here

Pressure mounts on Sussex Police to explain involvement in monitoring of MP Caroline LucasThe Argus reports that a source close to Sussex Police said it “almost certain” that Sussex officers would have shared information on Green MP Caroline Lucas from demonstrations. The National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Unit, based at the Metropolitan Police, have been monitoring her activity at public demonstrations, including the Balcombe anti-fracking protests, for nine years. A spokeswoman for Katy Bourne, incumbent Tory candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections, said Mrs Bourne had no plans to raise the issue with the chief constable. Asked whether Sussex Police officers monitor demonstrations and shares information with the extremism unit, a Sussex Police spokesman said: “Yes, Sussex Police does share information with other relevant agencies in accordance with relevant legislation.”

Greens look to claim the anti fracking vote. The Evening Times reports comments by Caroline Lucas, MP, who says fracking could be decisive in Thursday’s Scottish parliament election. She said the Greens consistent opposition to fracking could be instrumental in the party winning support. Ms Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, criticised the SNP moratorium policy as mealy-mouthed and less clear than the Greens outright opposition.

29 April 2016

Third Energy’s John Dewar looks forward to his “crowning glory” at Kirby MispertonDrillOrDrop report on the operations director’s views on fracking in Yorkshire, opponents and fighting back.

Our latest newsletter on Byline. Catch up with news on fracking and onshore oil and gas developments. Link here

Prosecution withdrawn. Preston New Road Action Group reports that Fylde Borough Council has withdrawn its prosecution of John Tootill who has displayed signs on Preston New Road opposing Cuadrilla’s plans to frack next to his nursery.

The economics of shale gas extraction. In a report by Common Weal Policy, Dr Craig Dalzell concludes: the shale oil and gas extraction market in the UK has little scope for community owned or small company development; individual wells become largely non-productive within a few years of development, forcing companies to drill new wells in new locations at a rapid pace; profit margins are likely to be comparatively small and sensitive to oil and gas pricing; nearby communities are likely to be significantly adversely impacted; jobs are short-lived and highly mobile; UK reserves are likely to have an insignificant impact on global markets or end-user prices; the cost of mitigating environmental degradation may exceed lifetime revenues from a well.

Backing Beauty. The think tank ResPublica launches a commission to campaign to put beauty, placemaking and community participation at the heart of local planning and wider public policy.

LETTER: Fracking meeting gave insight into health issuesThe Derbyshire Times carries a letter from John Butcher, of Balcombe, who writes about a meeting in Haywards Heath which included speakers from Medact and the Chem Trust.

Earthquake prompts Hilcorp to stop fracking Pa. wellShale Gas Reporter says a 1.9 magnitude earthquake was recorded near  a Hilcorp Energy shale well in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania causing the company to stop fracking the well. An investigation is underway.

28 April 2016

Study: Fracking effects on water not systematicRigzone reports on research from the University of Texas which found the impact of horizontal drilling and fracking on groundwater quality is not believed to be permanent. Researchers found water samples from private wells contained chlorinated solvents, alcohols and aromatic compounds exclusively after multiple unconventional oil wells had been activated within 3.1 miles (5 km) of the sampling sites. Large fluctuations in pH and total organic carbon levels also were detected in addition to a gradual accumulation of bromide. But the study found toxic compounds associated with unconventional drilling may degrade or become diluted over time.

28 April 2016

Support for shale gas fracking at record low – government surveyDrillOrDrop report,  The Guardian,  Business GreenLytham St Annes Express (Fylde campaigners hail DECC report on fracking – 2/5/2016) and Lancashire Evening Post (Energy report finds more people oppose fracking –  2/5/2016)

Surveillance on anti-fracking campaigner revealed in High Court hearing. DrillOrDrop report

Call for public inquiry after final Barton Moss anti-fracking protest trial ends in not-guilty verdict. Guest post for DrillOrDrop by Stephen Kingston of the Salford Star.

Opinion: Why we fear fracking. Helen Rimmer, Friends of the Earth North West Campaigner responds in the Lancashire Evening Post to comments on fracking by geologist James Verdon. Ms Rimmer points to risks of earthquakes by fluid reinjection and lists other reasons for opposition, including industrialisation, climate change impacts, health risks and the potential imposition of the process by government against local opposition.

Poland referred to European Court over fracking law violationsFriends of the Earth Europe reports that the European Commission has announced it will refer Poland to the European Court of Justice for failing to ensure adequate assessments of the environmental impacts of fracking were carried out.

The spectre of Fracking is lurking, so put politics aside. The Rossendale Scribbler, writing in the Rossendale Free Press, responds to comments by local Conservative MP, Jake Berry, that fracking decisions are ultimately for local councils. The column says Mr Berry knows that decisions on fracking near Blackpool will be made by the Secretary of State. “It’s not good enough for Mr Berry to say he’ll make sure his constituents’ views are heard when any decision is made. He needs to commit to being a very loud voice against the choirs of industry in Westminster should it get that far.”

27 April 2016

MPs call for decarbonisation of electricity and heating to meet climate change commitments. DrillOrDrop report

Sophie and Emma Thompson at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site. Photo: Greenpeace

Hollywood actor travels to Lancashire for Bake Off themed fracking protestThe Lancashire Evening Post reports that actors Emma and Sophie Thompson are taking part in a Bake Off themed protest at Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking site at Preston New Road on the Fylde. The stunt was organised by Greenpeace, which erected a tent where the sisters will be baking in a Frack Free Bake Off. The Chorley Guardian has video of a farmer using a muck spreader close to the protest.

Other coverage: Daily Mail (Get off my fracking land! Furious farmer sprays MANURE at Oscar winning actress Emma Thompson after she breaks a court injunction to protest on his field); Daily Telegraph (Farmer sprays manure at Emma Thompson as she breaks injunction to stage fracking protest) The Metro (Emma Thompson sprayed with manure during anti-fracking Bake Off).

How can we be sure fracking will not pollute aquifers? Lessons from a major longwall coal mining analogue. Paul Younger, in a paper for Earth And Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, uses the Selby coalfield as an illustration to refuse claims that fracking would contaminate aquifers. He says for this to occur there needs to be a continuous permeable pathway and sustained driving head upwards. He concludes new mines in the coalfield maintained complete hydraulic isolation from the near-surface hydrogeological environment. “Without hydrogeological connectivity to shallow aquifers, shale gas fracking per se cannot contaminate shallow ground water.”  The Scotsman and University of Glasgow press release, and The Times (Gas fracking ‘unlikely to cause a pollution danger to water supplies’)

Antrim reservoirs taken out of service during oil drilling projectThe Belfast Telegraph reports two reservoirs which provide drinking water to hundreds of homes across Belfast and Co Antrim have been put out of service while oil exploration is carried out nearby. Northern Ireland Water says the reservoirs at Woodburn Forest near Carrickfergus will not be contaminated by an exploratory borehole 350 metres away, but said it had put the two reservoirs offline for the duration of the project. Following a meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, campaigners from Stop The Drill said they learned that the “potentially contaminated” water from the reservoirs is now being diverted into Belfast Lough. “This is an admission that NI Water do not trust that the Woodburn site is a ‘zero discharge site’,” they said.

Environmental campaigners present fracking report to Marcus Fysh in Yeovil. The Western Gazette reports members from Frack Free Yeovil gave a copy of the Medact report on health impacts of fracking to Marcus Fysh, the town’s Conservative MP.

The East Midlands and the North East are under attack from fracking companies. get informed and get organised where you live today! The anti-fracking group, Frack Off, gives details of activity by oil and gas companies in the Gainsborough Trough.

Holyrood 2016: Scottish Labour manifesto pledges ‘return to party’s roots’.  BBC News reports Scottish Labour’s manifesto opposition to fracking.

Northern Ireland Affairs Committee launches inquiry into electricity sector. The House of Commons NIAC is calling for evidence into challenges to the target of 40% renewable contribution to Northern Ireland’s electricity supply by 2020. It will also look at steps needed to improve interconnection with markets in the Irish Republic and Great Britain. The deadline for submissions is 1 June 2016. This will be followed by public sessions in the summer. Link to inquiry page

26 April 2016

UK MPs put on legal notice of risks of fracking. DrillOrDrop report, Lytham Express  (28/4/2016)

BP slumps to first quarter loss, two weeks after pay rebellionEnergy Voice reports that BP had a first quarter replacement cost loss of $485m – a significant loss on last year’s $2.1bn profit.

Oil and gas firms being held back from fracking opportunities, says Fraser. Energy Voice reports comments by Scottish Conservative energy spokesman, Murdo Fraser, who said North Sea oil and gas companies were being held up from maximising opportunities in fracking because of the Scottish government’s moratorium on shale gas.

25 April 2016

Live updates from shale gas seminar in Scarborough. DrillOrDrop report.

Anti-fracking demonstrations outside shale gas seminarDrillOrDrop report

Anti-fracking campaigners draw symbolic line in the sand. The Northern Echo reports on protests outside a shale gas seminar in Scarborough. As protesters gather on Scarborough beach, is Greenpeace planning to hijack North Yorkshire fracking decision? The Yorkshire Post

Fire destroys home of Lancashire shale gas opponent, charged over anti-fracking signs on Preston New RoadDrillOrDrop report. Heroic Alfie saves couple from blaze. Blackpool Gazette (27 April 2016)

Fracking Weeks in Politics. Catch up with DrillOrDrop’s review of what MPs have been saying about fracking, including community consultation, shale wealth fund, buffer zones and protection for historic towns.

North Sea entrepreneur Larry Kinch eyes shale prospects onshore. Energy Voice reports a multimillionaire who made his fortune in the North Sea oil and gas industry is targeting potential lucrative returns from shale gas deposits across north west England by taking a 70% stake in Aurora Energy Resources. AER, Aurora’s sister company, was awarded three UK licences in the 14th round, giving the company 110,000 acres in the Bowland shale.

IGas Energy achieves 10th consecutive RoSPA Gold Award. IGas announces it has been awarded the RoSPA President’s award for 10 years of gold awards for health and safety performance. The company says this is one of the most sought-after awards in the industry and recognises health and safety management systems, leadership and workforce involvement. Stewart Reast, IGas director of HSE, said: “Over the last year, we achieved zero Lost Time Incidents. Our performance was primarily due to an even greater focus on our safety culture and practices by our leadership team and operations personnel, who continue to promote a safety culture that is embedded in the workforce.”

Emma Thompson and sister Sophie hint at ‘cunning plan’ to stop fracking in new Greenpeace videoThe Evening Standard reports Emma Thompson and her sister Sophie have posted a video on Greenpeace YouTube channel in which they promise to direct action against government plans to force fracking on communities.

Frack Free Northwich invites residents to awareness eveningsThe Northwich Guardian reports the anti-fracking group is running information evenings at Wincham, Weaverham, Winnington and Rudheath.  The first is at Wincham Community Centre on Wednesday 4 May at 7.30pm.

Shell to close three UK offices housing 1,600 staffThe Guardian reports Royal Dutch Shell is closing three UK offices, affecting 1,600 employees, including BG’s headquarters in Reading, after its £35bn takeover of the oil and gas company earlier this year. It has also begun a voluntary redundancy programme as part of a plan to cut 10,300 jobs across the merged group, comprising 7,500 from the original Shell business, as it attempts to cope with the recent plunge in oil prices, and another 2,800 following the merger with BG.

A former PR worker whose job was to defend fracking online describes how they mislead the public. The US media network, Ring of Fire Network, reports on a post by a former PR employee on Reddit which describes how the north American fracking industry removed scrutiny and criticism.

23 April 2016

Magellan Petroleum seeks to sell interests in the Weald. DrillOrDrop report

The SNP fracking ban only ‘temporary’The Express reports a speech by Tom Pickering of INEOS to the Shale World UK conference appears to be at odds with the SNP manifesto which promises an outright ban unless fracking can be proved safe beyond any doubt. The speech refers in the title to a “temporary moratorium” comes a fortnight after the Scottish elections. Tom Pickering tells the paper: “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.”

Gender-bending chemical risk to humans from fracking, warn scientists. Herald Scotland reports on research by the University of Missouri which found hormone-disrupting chemicals in surface water near a fracking waste water disposal facility in West Virginia. The concentrations were high enough to damage wildlife and threaten human health, they said.

Australian MP sets river on fire and then blames frackingThe Independent reports Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham set fire to the Condamine River in Queensland to try to draw attention to local fracking, which he says is causing methane gas to seep into the water. In a video, he points to the river and says “This is the future of Australia if we do not stop the frackers”. The Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines has reported that there is “no apparent safety risk in the immediate area of the seeps” and “no apparent evidence of environmental harm that can be attributed to the present gas seeps”.

22 April 2016

IGas announces it is preparing a new planning application for shale drilling in north NottinghamshireDrillOrDrop report

Test aims to identify shale gas hazard in groundwater. Science Daily reports that researchers at Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow have developed a test to check for contamination of shallow groundwater from unconventional gas extraction techniques, such as fracking. Methods used for shale gas extraction include hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, in which shale rocks below ground are split with high-pressure fluids to release gas that is recovered for fuel. Coal bed methane is extracted from deep coal seams by drilling into the coal to reduce the pressure and release gas.

Friends of the Earth calls for end to new fossil fuel exploration and production. FoE dumped a tonne of coal outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change this morning – one lump for each of the near 10,000 people who signed a petition for new rules to block new open cast coal mines. The protest coincides with the signing of the Paris climate agreement which commits government to efforts to hold the rise in global temperatures to 1.5C. The group calls for an end to new fossil fuel exploration and productions. It wants changes in policy on fracking. “It would be a colossally retrograde signal to the world post-Paris if the UK embarks on developing a new fossil fuel industry”, it said.

Letter: Work with the industry not against it. In a letter to The Malton Mercury, David Pasley, says: “Fracking is coming to North Yorkshire. No matter how many scaremongering letters Frack Free Ryedale with their loyal supporters peddling their doomsday scenarios write, it is coming.” He says “We need a new wave of politics – people who can accept new ideas, new opportunities and bold enough to take on challenges and new ideas….We need a new debate, not on how to stop fracking but how we can work with the industry”.

21 April 2016

‘It may turn communities upside down’ – councillor calls for ‘balanced’ fracking debate. The Warrington Guardian reports comments by Stockton Heath councillor, Laurence Murphy (Lab) who is pressing INEOS to present both sides of the argument to a meeting at Frodsham Community Centre on 10 May. Cllr Murphy says: He said: “I note that the presentation will be made by the proponents of fracking. I am seeking an assurance that the informed arguments of objectors will be represented to ensure that the presentation is fully balanced.”

Opinion: Fracking no cause for concern. Geophysicist James Verdon writes in The Lancashire Evening Post that very few earth tremors have been generated by shale gas extraction, compared with other technologies, such as coal mining. He says the traffic light system which requires fracking to stop if seismic activity of 0.5 is recorded is set too low for humans to feel. He says: “the likelihood of fracking activities inducing earth tremors of sufficient magnitude to be felt is very small, and the likelihood of any damage to nearby buildings or infrastructure being caused by such events is negligible”.

20 April 2016

Leading academic says there are still gaps in UK fracking regulations. DrillOrDrop report

Companies will not try to frack on the edge of villages, Energy Minister tells MPs. DrillOrDrop report

Energy Minister rejects single fracking regulator – for now. DrillOrDrop report

“Government is enemy of people on fracking” – former climate diplomat. DrillOrDrop report

Breaking: Date set for May to decide on Third Energy’s fracking application at Kirby Misperton. DrillOrDrop report and Yorkshire PostNorthern Echo

Towards an understanding of the environmental and public health impacts of unconventional natural gas development. US researchers reviewed 685 papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.They concluded 84% of public health studies contained findings that indicated public health hazards, elevated risks or adverse health outcomes; 69% of water quality studies contained findings that indicate potential or actual water contamination; 87% of air quality studies contain findings that indicate elevated air pollutant emissions and/or atmospheric concentrations. Link to study

Bid to thwart government over fracking changes led by Worcestershire councillor. Worcester News reports on a fresh bid to urge the government into a fracking u-turn amid fears that councillors could lose crucial powers. Cllr Paul Denham, deputy chair of Worcestershire County Council, is launching an attempt to prevent fracking wells becoming defined as nationally significant infrastructure projects. He has presented a motion, expected to be voted at the next full council meeting on Thursday 12 May.

Councillors back fracking sign protester. The Lytham St Annes Express reports that councillors have moved to distance themselves from the prosecution of a man who has placed anti-fracking signs on his land. John Tootill, from Westby, is facing 26 charges of displaying unauthorised advertisements on land at Maple Farm Nurseries, and is due before Blackpool Magistrates next month. But some councillors have questioned why Mr Tootill is being brought to book by Fylde Council. They include Cllr Paul Hayhurst who said: “I did not vote. We should not be taking action against him. I had to leave the Fylde meeting when they were considering it on the advice of the county solicitor because I’m a member of the county planning committee.”

EU dropped climate policies after BP threat of oil industry ‘exodus’The Guardian reports the EU abandoned or weakened key proposals for new environmental protections after receiving a letter from a  top BP executive which warned of an exodus of the oil industry from Europe if the proposals went ahead.

Industry calls for EA to drop water functionENDS reports that the Environmental Industries Commission has called for the Environment Agency to hand responsibility for flooding, combined sewer outflows and water quality to a new agency.

Sturgeon escalates her opposition to fracking to ‘deeply sceptical’ in SNP’s Holyrood manifestoScottish Energy News reports that the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon has re-opened the party’s political fissure over fracking, vowing to ban onshore shale gas exploration if re-elected next month. In the SNP’s manifesto for the Scottish parliament elections, Sturgeon has escalated her ‘frankly sceptical’ view on safe fracking to ‘deeply sceptical’.

The government needs to fire up the green gas industryBusiness Green reports the UK has the potential to rapidly expand its green gas sector – but only if ministers seize the opportunity. Dr Kiara Zennaro, head of UK Biogas, a sector group of the Renewable Energy Association, tells the website: “while the government for years has touted the ‘fracking revolution’, biomethane is actually getting on with the job of increasing our domestic gas production while decarbonising supply”.

Scotland’s new left wing party launches vision for Trident and frack-free republic. The Guardian reports on Rise (respect, independence, socialism, environmentalism) a new left alliance party in Scotland which supports an outright ban on fracking, as well a Trident-free future.

Know your A-Z of fracking.  Malcolm Hara, writing to The Beverley Guardian, lists an A-Z of the problems he sees with fracking, including air pollution, benzene causing cancer and climate change.

19 April 2016

10,000 book to see new play about fracking, which sells out in weeksDrillOrDrop report. Brighton Argus (24/04/2016)

Assessing the benefits of onshore drilling. With the next UK planning decision on fracking just weeks away, DrillOrDrop’s latest newsletter for Byline reports on how arguments over the benefits of onshore drilling are stepping up across the country.

“Very significant returns between 6-18 months”. Stephen Sanderson, executive chairman of the UK Oil and Gas, tells Directors Talk people could see increased value in shares if they invest in his company.

Protest planned as fracking conference comes to Scarboro’Scarborough Today reports on a major anti-fracking protest planned to greet an industry conference at the Scarborough Spa.

Chesapeake’s shale fracking spinoff plans to file bankruptcyBloomberg reports that Seventy Seven Energy, the shale fracking business spun off by Chesapeake Energy less than two years ago plans to file for bankruptcy protection.

Fracking: former Northern Territory opposition leader calls for referendum. The Guardian reports that former Australian NT leader, Delia Lawrence, has said a referendum on fracking should be held in the state this year. On Tuesday, Helen Bender from Queensland’s Darling Downs and the US cattle rancher John Fenton warned people “if you do not think this will impact you, you are very wrong”.

Scottish Labour: Time for a coherent energy strategyEnergy Voice reports Scottish Labour’s environment spokeswoman, Sarah Boyack, says her party does not see fracking as part of the way forward. She says there is a lack of trust in the Scottish Government over the issues.

18 April 2016

Leading execs seek to sell shale gas to N Yorkshire. Opponents say they’re lobbying for fracking plans in the countyDrillOrDrop report and Northern Echo (23/04/2016)

Weald oil production could generate £52bn, says EY – but it would need 2,400 wells and “streamlined” regulation. DrillOrDrop report 

UKOG snaps up Horse Hill acreage for £1.8millionEnergy Voice reports UK Oil & Gas has bought Angus Energy’s remaining 7.8% interest in the Horse Hill-1 oil discovery. The £1.8million transaction increases UKOG’s stake in the onshore Weald Basin from 19.9% to 27.3%.

‘Policing fracking protests could cost North Yorkshire Police millions,’ police commissioner candidate warns. The Northern Echo reports comments by former police officer, Mike Pannett, a candidate for North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner. He said the bill for policing protests against fracking could cost taxpayers millions, drain police budgets and draw officers away from usual duties. York Press (22/04/2016)

Longannet ‘denied’ £9m recovery fundThe Courier reports renewed calls by Fife Council for the Scottish Government to pay £9m to fund economic recovery plans created by the tasks force for the Longannet coal fired power station which closed last month. The Scottish Government’s refusal to release funds has led Fife Council’s deputy leader, Lesley Laird to claim it may be because  of other plans for the site, possibly including the controversial practices of fracking and underground coal gasification (UCG).

Anti-fracking campaigner visits Warminster meeting during hunger strikeThis is Wiltshire reports that anti-fracking campaigner, Gayzer Frackman, will be talking at The Old Bell pub in Warminster (Wednesday 20 April). He has been on hunger strike outside Downing Street since 4 April.

Warnings on the health effects of fracking. Kathryn McWhirter, reporting for The Mid Sussex Times gives details of a meeting on health and fracking in Haywards Heath on Saturday 16 April. Speakers included Dr Jill Sutcliffe, an expert on health effects of nuclear waste and resident of Wisborough Green; Dr Tim Thornton, a retired GP from Ryedale in North Yorkshire, Dr Michael Warhurst, executive director of the CHEM Trust and Charles Metcalfe, from Balcombe. The meeting also heard a message from John Ashton, a former UK Special Representative on Climate Change from 2006-2012.

Investigation reveals Yorkshire fracking firm Third Energy’s links to infamous offshore tax haven. An investigation by Frack Free North Yorkshire reveals that the parent group of Third Energy (which is applying to frack at Kirby Misperton) has been based in the Cayman Islands since 2011. Third Energy Holdings Limited is based in Ugland House, George Town, which is the registered office address of 18,857 entities, including many major investment funds, international joint ventures and capital market issuers.

British Gas lost 220,000 customers in first three months of 2016The Guardian reports the fall, announced at the AGM of British Gas’s parent Centrica, amounted to almost double the number of losses for the whole of 2015. The company said the decline was due to a large number of customers coming off fixed-rate tariffs at the same time. Iain Conn, Centrica’s chief executive, said 88% of customers eligible to switch had decided to stay with British Gas. FT report

Oil market confidence shaken as Opec talks collapseThe Telegraph reports global oil prices slumped after rising tensions between the world’s largest crude producers derailed plans to tackle the market’s crippling oversupply by freezing oil production levels. Brent crude fell from almost $45 a barrel late last week to under $41.

Oil price tumbles on Doha deal stalemate. The FT reports oil prices sank after attempts by some of the world’s biggest producers to freeze output ended without a deal on 17 April, with Saudi Arabia insisting Iran should be part of any agreement.

Teesside petrochemical firm, Sabic “securing thousands of jobs” with shale gas workThe Northern Echo reports Sabic UK, which employs about 600 staff on Teesside, is converting its Olefins cracker (used to make products used in plastics, CDs and tyres) to take US shale gas. The company says this will be cheaper than the naphtha fuel it currently uses and will secure more than a thousand jobs.

Holyrood 2016: Parties focus on climate and land. The BBC reports the role of fracking in the Scottish elections.

Range Resources exec’s well-site remarks drawing sharp criticism. Does Range avoid rich neighbourhoods? PowerSource reports The Center for Coalfield Justice and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club will ask the Pennsylvania Office of Environmental Justice to review shale gas development by Range Resources to determine if the company avoided drilling in wealthier neighbourhoods and targeted poorer areas of the state.

17 April 2016

Falkirk residents remain divided over whether fracking is too high a price to payThe Daily Record reports from Falkirk, which it describes as the eye of a hurricane of the debate on fracking in Scotland. The area is ringed by central-belt sites where fracking is planned if the new government gives it the go-ahead. But the paper says opinion is divided over whether what it calls the financial boost is worth the environmental risk.

Our green and pleasant land is blighted. And it will get worse. Huw Rowlands, writing in The Observer, says his business rearing rare breed cattle is in danger from fracking, promoted by what he describes as a “foolhardy government coupled with an avaricious company determined to industrialise, pollute and destroy the countryside”.

16 April 2016

Can the oil price ever recover to $100? The Telegraph reports that OPEC will be forced to confront the rising tensions within its ranks and its own weakening market leverage as it battles to thrash out a much-anticipated deal to freeze global oil production.

INEOS make Appalachian gas deal. The Falkirk Herald reports that INEOS has signed an agreement to buy even more shale gas from the USA. The firm will buy ethane, propane and butane from Rex Energy’s source in the Appalachian shale basin near the east coast of the US and transport to its cracker complexes in Europe. Ethane export begins this month and propane and butane next year.

15 April 2016

Energy Minister to speak to new parliamentary group on fracking regulation. DrillOrDrop report, Gazette and Herald (14/4/16) and Northern Echo

Who wants to drill where? DrillOrDrop’s spring 2016 round-up of fracking and onshore oil and gas activity, including consents, applications and withdrawals.

Anger over work at Carrickfergus Woodburn oil drill site before checks completedThe Belfast Telegraph reports campaigners from Stop The Drill protest group are outraged that InfraStrata is pressing ahead with work on a drill site in County Antrim near a drinking water reservoir before Northern Ireland’s Department of Enterprise has determined whether the consortium has the ability to do the work or restore the site. Drilling is expected to start in May. InfraStrata has confirmed it was responsible for two oil spills in Woodburn Forest.

Central Association of Agricultural Valuers unveils practical guide to fracking. Farming UK reports on Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas, a guide by the CAAV, described as “the first comprehensive review” to help landowners navigate the “challenges and opportunities of fracking”. Sarah Chorlton, of the CAAV, tells the website: “Because it’s such a complex area we stop short of supplying template agreements, but offer advice on points to consider during the drafting process, from test wells through to project completion and final decommissioning. Considerations include compensation, indemnity against third party claims, potential payments to the landowner and neighbouring community, and environmental impacts”, she adds. The report costs £100. www.caav.org.uk and The Scottish Farmer (21/04/2016)

14 April 2016

West Sussex seeks to exclude oil and gas drilling from protected landscapes. DrillOrDrop report

Lancashire anti-fracking campaigners win national environmental justice award. DrillOrDrop report

Tributes paid to Professor Sir David MacKayVarsity Online reports the death of Sir David MacKay, Regius Professor of Engineering at University of Cambridge. He was 48 and had cancer. Sir David was Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change from 2009-2014. His book Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air was publ9ished in 2008. Amber Rudd statement (15/4/2016)

Protester claims councillors should not have been involved in decision to take him to courtThe Lancashire Evening Post reports that a man being prosecuted for putting anti-fracking signs on his land has claimed six councillors should not have been involved in making the decision to take him to court. Barrister Richard Wald told Blackpool Magistrates Court there had been an abuse of process because the councillors on the planning committee of Fylde Borough council had interests in the gas drilling company, Cuadrilla. The case was adjourned until 19 May 2016.

Fracking’s total environmental impact is staggering, report findsThinkProgress reports on a study by Environment America which details the amount of water contamination, air pollution, climate impacts and chemical use in fracking in the US. One of the author’s Rachel Richardson, tells the website: “For the past decade, fracking has been a nightmare for our drinking water, our open spaces, and our climate”. Link to the report Fracking by the Numbers

Fracking: weighing risks and benefitsThe New York Times carries four letters on fracking including one from a physician who said she had studied the health effects of fracking. Short-term health effects include nosebleeds, burning eyes and throat, headaches, skin lesions and respiratory issues, she said. Bigger concerns, she said, were the long-term increased risk of cancer from exposure to chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde.

Oil falls as dark clouds appear ahead of producer meetingReuters reports oil prices are falling as OPEC warned of slowing demand and Russia hinted that might only be a loose agreement with little commitments at the upcoming exporter meeting to rein in ballooning oversupply. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs says productivity gains by U.S. shale producers were keeping alive its “deflationary outlook” for oil prices as drillers manage to adjust to lower prices, and with confidence in the recent price rally fading, traders have positioned themselves for further price falls.

Global shale gas market expected to hit $214bn by 2022. CityAm reports on a study by Allied Market Research which suggests global shale gas will grow at a rate of 14.4% from 2015-2022. Demand for shale gas is expected to grow at a rate of 12.6% during the same time.

13 April 2016

Research raises questions over industry payments to shale gas communities. DrillOrDrop report

UK government’s fracking definition ‘could allow drilling without safeguards’The Guardian reports accusations by Professor Stuart Haszeldine, of Edinburgh University, that the government has included a large loophole in its legal definition of fracking which could allow companies to bypass safety regulations. He said analysis of more than 20,000 thousand US wells fracked from 2000-2010 showed that 43% of gas and 89% of oil wells would not qualify as fracking under the definition. More details at What’s in a name: The risks from re-defining fracking, Stuart Gilfillan and Stuart Haszeldine, EnergyAndCarbon.com

Oil industry knew of ‘serious’ climate concerns more than 45 years ago. The Guardian reports that the oil industry knew about dangerous climate change back to the 1960s, with unearthed documents showing that it was warned of “serious worldwide environmental changes” more than 45 years ago. The Stanford Research Institute presented a report to the American Petroleum Institute in 1968 that warned the release of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels could carry an array of harmful consequences for the planet, the paper says.

Woodburn Forest drill: Site to be inspected by NIEAThe Carrick Times reports that staff from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency are investigating possible pollution at the Woodburn Forest drill site following reports of a second oil spill. The site operator, InfraStrata, confirmed a minor oil spill over Easter. A meeting takes place tomorrow (14 April 2016) organised by Stop the Drill at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel, Carrick.

We will use the powers to ban fracking in ScotlandScottish Labour says its manifesto for the Scottish elections will include a complete ban on fracking. It says “We believe establishing a new fossil fuel is the wrong priority. Party leader, Kezia Dugdale, says: “The scientific evidence is clear; our climate cannot stand another fossil fuel, that’s why a Scottish Labour Government will ban fracking. No ifs, no buts, no fracking with Scottish Labour. We will use the powers to ban fracking in Scotland.”

North-east Lib Dem candidate supporting fracking… Despite party fighting it. The Press and Journal reports the Lib Dem’s top list candidate in the north east of Scotland, former chief whip Mike Rumbles, has said he supports fracking despite his party campaigning against it.

Pay and display for fracking protestThe Blackpool Gazette reports a man being prosecuted by Fylde council for his anti-fracking protest has taken his fight to the authority’s front door. John Tootill is due to face Blackpool magistrates next month charged with 26 counts of displaying unauthorised advertisements on his land at Maple Farm Nurseries on Preston New Road in Westby. On Saturday, he paid and displayed to legally park his works van, displaying some of the signs, outside Fylde Borough Council’s headquarters at St Anne’s Town Hall.

Tories planning to give thousands of redundant oil workers fracking jobsThe Press and Journal reports that the Scottish Conservatives’ party manifesto will commit to “utilising the expertise” of offshore workers to develop unconventional gas extraction in Scotland. The manifesto, launched today in Glasgow, says the “decades of experience” in the north-east would be used to “safely extract unconventional gas, with planning consent from local communities”.

Oil price optimism grows as Brent climbs to 2016 high. The FT reports that the heads of the world’s largest oil trading houses sought to draw a line under nearly two years of falling prices on Tuesday as Brent crude rose to its highest level so far in 2016. They told an FT conference in Lausanne that oil prices were unlikely to return to sub $30 lows of early January. Brent crude, the international benchmark, climbed by nearly 4% on 12 April amid mounting expectation of a deal to freeze production, the paper says. Top oil traders sense worst is over and predict $80 oil by next year (Energy Voice)

Gas prices at 10-year lows fuel demands for energy price cuts. The Telegraph reports gas prices have fallen to their lowest level in more than a decade and wholesale power prices are at nine year lows because of oversupply. Analysis by the ICIS price reporting agency shows wholesale gas prices in the first quarter of 2016 averaged just over 32p per therm, down a third on the same period last year.

YP Letters: Decision time looms for fracking well. Bridget Holmes, writing in The Yorkshire Post, says she is horrified at the prospect of fracking at Kirby Misperton. “Our beautiful, tranquil and rural landscape will be completely changed”, she says. “People’s health and wellbeing will be undermined by the noise and light 24/7 of the setting up of the wells and the heavy HGVs which will overload the local infrastructure. The potential risk of water and air pollution by toxic spillage and chemical contamination is too great. Any monitoring will most likely highlight problems once it is too late”.

Ryedale fracking plan moves a step closerThe Gazette and Herald reports on the granting of environmental permits to Third Energy to frack at Kirby Misperton, plus reaction to the news.

Scottish Conservatives’ manifesto on energy efficiency, Labour against fracking. Energy Voice reports on the Conservative and Labour manifesto launches for the Scottish Parliament elections. The Conservatives propose to increase spending on energy efficiency from under 3% of the capital budget to 10% by the end of the parliamentary term, the website says. Labour, which has not yet published its manifesto, is opposing fracking during campaigning in Edinburgh.

Fracking causes Scottish Lib Dem splitEnergy Voice reports on a split in the Scottish Lib Dems, with former chief whip, Mike Rumbles, saying he supports lifting the SNP moratorium on fracking. He said the party was in favour of the moratorium on “climate change grounds” but he added: “I don’t always agree with everything my party says, I personally am in favour of it [lifting the moratorium] – I am giving you the party line here.”

12 April 2016

Reaction to environment permits for fracking at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire. DrillOrDrop report

Judicial review hearing of Lancashire County Council approval of Cuadrilla’s monitoring scheme at Roseacre Wood postponed until after public inquiry decisionMore details (see Lancashire section)

Fracking and health meeting. The medical charity, Medact, and Frack Free Sussex, is staging a meeting on Saturday 16 April at Clair Hall, Haywards Heath, from 11am-12.30pm. Speakers include Dr Jill Sutcliffe, Dr Michael Warhurst, Charles Metcalfe and Dr Tim Thornton. The meeting is chaired by Julian O’Halloran. More details

‘It is quite frankly a frightening prospect’ – councillor battles Government veto on local fracking oppositionThe Bolton News reports Horwich North East councillor, Richard Silvester, is proposing a motion at Wednesday’s meeting of Bolton Council tomorrow (Wednesday) to block planning applications for fracking. He tells the paper: “We would have the prospect of tankers carrying radioactive waste water through the streets of Bolton without the council having any say in the matter. It is quite frankly a frightening prospect if the Government decides to go ahead with these proposals.” Link to council agenda (see item 12b)

SNP policy does ‘not justify’ party’s anti-fracking campaign propsThe Herald Scotland reports the SNP is facing fresh demands to spell out its position on fracking after the party was once again accused of misleading voters over its position on the issue. The paper says SNP headquarters is providing activists with campaign material including the term ‘frack off’ – a slogan widely used by activists who want to see the technique banned – despite Nicola Sturgeon refusing to rule out giving the controversial gas extraction method it the go-ahead once a moratorium ends next year.

Greens lay out plans to tackle fracking. The National reports comments by the Scottish Greens that they “take bolder action on fracking” when they launch their manifesto.

Higher taxes and fracking ban get the party startedThe Times reports the Scottish Greens are promising to raise taxes and ban fracking in their Scottish election manifesto.

Clinton caught in trap set by fracking activistsThe Chicago Tribune reports that opponents to fracking mean to make trouble for Hillary Clinton into the coming New York and Pennsylvania primaries on 19 and 26 April. Mrs Clinton favours the New York ban on fracking, while calling for strict regulation of the practice in Pennsylvania and other states that allow it. Opponents to fracking think she’s just trying to have it both ways, the paper says.

Northern Territory fracking debate ‘life or death’, says cattle farmerThe Guardian reports on comments by cattle farmer, Daniel Tapp, who says the fracking debate in Australia’s Northern Territory is a “matter of life or death” for farmers. He told a Senate select committee hearing on unconventional gas mining “We can’t live without water”. He said fracking put the region’s farming industry at risk by contaminating or depleting water.

11 April 2016

Environment Agency grants permits to Third Energy for fracking at Kirby Misperton. DrillOrDrop report   Government press releaseBBC NewsBusiness Green (12/4/2016)

Last equipment moved off Rathlin Energy’s Crawberry Hill wellsite following restoration. DrillOrDrop report

Protesters set up camp near potential gas drilling site in Bridge TraffordThe Chester Standard reports that anti-fracking protesters have set up camp close to a site recently bought by a subsidiary of IGas. One of them, Dr Steven Peers, said the site at the corner of Ince Lane and Warrington Road in Bridge Trafford is close to a habitat for otters and great crested newts. The campaigners say they want to ensure people are informed about IGas’s intentions.

Bernie Sanders proposes national ban on frackingABC News reports Democratic presidential hopeful, Bernie Sanders, proposed a national ban on shale gas extraction using fracking. Speaking in Binghampton, New York, he told audiences: “I want to applaud you for standing up to Governor [Andrew] Cuomo,” Sanders told his fans in upstate New York. “What may have been considered unrealistic or pie in the sky just a few years ago has now been achieved in New York because you made it happen.”

Reject BP’s chief’s pay, shareholder group saysThe Guardian reports that the controversy over the $20m (£14m) pay for BP’s chief executive, Bob Dudley, has intensified after the ShareSoc group representing individual shareholders urged members to vote against the measure at this week’s annual general meeting. Mr Dudley’s pay rose 20% last year as the company accrued a record $6.5bn loss.

U.S. shale output drop seen for 7th month running in MayReuters reports U.S. shale output drop seen for 7th month running in May. Total output is seen dropping 114,000 barrels per day to 4.84 million bpd, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) drilling productivity report. If correct, that would be the largest monthly decline since records were available in 2007.

U.S. shale oil firms feel credit squeeze as banks grow cautiousReuters reports Nearly two years into an epic oil rout, U.S. shale drillers that have upended global energy markets are finally feeling a credit squeeze as banks make their biggest cuts yet to their loans. Just a few weeks into the current round of talks more than a dozen companies have had their loans cut by a total of $3.5 billion, equivalent to a fifth of available credit.

Guidance on fracking: developing shale oil and gas in the UK. Department of Energy and Climate Change updates guidance with details of Section 50 of the Infrastructure Act which came into force on 6 April 2016. See also DrillOrDrop’s post on this

YP Letters: Fracking fury as Ryedale residents take on Government. Stephen Jack, writing in The Yorkshire Post, says “Given the recent record of the Environment Agency and that of the fracking industry where currently practised, it is hardly surprising that cynicism and distrust reigns within the host communities.” Responding to a report by Yorkshire County Council (see DrilllOrDrop post), he says the suggestion of “buffer zones” is not a convincing compromise. He added “there appear to be no absolute guarantees that Third Energy will clean up after any accidents or when the operations finish”. Michael Tanner congratulations the council on the report but he says “the only prudent policy is the apply the precautionary principle and declare a moratorium”.

LETTER: Frackers taped admitting using military psyops on public. Barbara Daniels, writing to the US website HuntingtonNews.net, says delegates to a conference in Houston were taped citing the use of the US Army/Marine Corp Insurgency Manual. “Calling community activists “insurgents” reportable to Homeland Security, the manual’s tactics include pitting neighbour against neighbour and tracking us to map our relationships”, she said. She added “The CEO of Jurat Software spoke of the importance of data mining and intelligence collection.”

10 April 2016

Election interview: Scottish Green co-convener Patrick HarvieHerald Scotland talks to Patrick Harvie about fracking, nationalising INEOS’s Grangemouth plant and energy.

9 April 2016

Weekly newsletter on fracking and onshore oil and gas for Byline.com by DrillOrDrop

8 April 2016

Weighing up the evidence in the Cuadrilla fracking inquiry: how do planning inspectors make up their mind? DrillOrDrop interview with Ben Linscott of the Planning Inspectorate on the decision-making process.

‘House-shaking claims of anti-frackers are ridiculous’The Blackpool Gazette and Lancashire Evening Post report the response of fracking supporters to comments made last week on the 5th anniversary of the Blackpool earthquakes. They said the earthquakes, caused by fracking by Cuadrilla, at Preese Hall, was felt in local houses. Babs Murphy, of North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said expert agencies had oversight off any potential risks from fracking and exploration should go ahead to realise potential economic benefits. Geologist, John Standing, said “The claims made by the campaigners …. of houses shaking, cracks in walls … are beyond ridiculous.” The effects would be result of a much larger earthquake, he said.

7 April 2016

North Yorkshire County Council report calls for mandatory fracking clean-up fund paid for by industry. DrillorDrop report

YP Comment: Fracking: Think of the residents. Safeguards required at the outset. The Yorkshire Post says despite the commercial opportunities of fracking there is “clearly deep unease, as articulated by correspondents to this newspaper, about the environmental ramifications of fracking”. The paper says: “North Yorkshire County Council should be commended for producing such a thorough report on the relevant issues, like the creation of buffer zones between homes and drilling sites, and whether other remedial measures need to be considered.”

Scientists find fracking contaminated Wyoming water after EPA halted studyThe Guardian reports two scientists have highlighted levels of benzine in water 50 times above the allowable limit from a fracking operation in Wyoming, three years after the US Environmental Protection Agency decided to abandon its investigation into the matter. Their research, prompted by local complaints about the smell and test of water, also revealed chemicals had been dumped in unlined pits and cement barriers were inadequate. Link to paper in Environmental Science and Technology

Regulators allow Repsol to resume fracking after Alberta quakeReuters reports regulators have given Repsol Oil and Gas Canada to green light to resume hydraulic fracking at a remote well in Alberta nearly three months after the region was rocked by a 4.8 earthquake linked to the fracking on 12 January. An investigation by the Alberta Energy Regulator concluded with “high confidence” that the quake had been caused by fracking.

Overnight Energy: Fracking questions dog ClintonThe Hill reports criticism by climate group 350 Action of Hillary Clinton’s donations from fossil fuel interests. Greenpeace has claimed she has taken more than $1.6m in donations from industry employees or lobbyists. Clinton has pointed to fact-checking groups that have largely dismissed the complaints saying donations from fossil fuel interests are a minor percentage of her fundraising.

High levels of endocrine disrupting chemicals found near fracking wastewater siteEcoWatch reports on a study from the University of Missouri which has reported high levels of endocrine disrupting chemicals in the surface water near a fracking wastewater disposal facility in West Virginia. The report, Endocrine Disrupting Activity in Surface Water Associated with a West Virginia Oil and Gas Industry Wastewater Injection Disposal Site, was published today in the peer-reviewed journal Science of the Total EnvironmentLink to abstract

Toxic biocides may not be needed routinely at fracking sites, study showsC&EN, the journal of the American Chemical Society, quotes research by Rice University and Statoil, which questioned the need for biocides to combat hydrogen sulphide which can corrode pipelines. It said the research found that H2S might be formed by geochemical reactions, rather than microbes and temperatures in wells might be too hot for sulfogenic microbes to survive.

Europa Oil & Gas PLC advancing assets regardless of low crude prices. Proactive Investors reports Europa’s production will double in the second half of 2016 when the Wressle oil discovery comes online. The Bury Hill Wood well in the Holmwood prospect is due to be drilled within 12 months. Link to interim results

Shale has had ‘huge’ impact on Scotland, says visiting lecturer. The Scotsman reports comments by Daniel Yergin, speaking in Edinburgh, that shale is the “biggest energy innovation of this century”. He said the so-called shale revolution “came as a surprise” and “really redefined” global markets, and is this century’s biggest energy innovation, as wind and solar “were innovations of the 1970s and 1980s”.

US and Canada continue climate alliance with move to curb methane emissionsThe Guardian reports the US and Canada are to find ways of achieving cuts to methane emissions from the oil industry agreed last month.

David Cameron decides to do without a climate change envoyThe Guardian reports the Prime Minister has no plans to appoint a new climate change envoy. Lord Barker of Battle was appointed in September 2014 but stepped down from the role and as an MP last year. In a written answer, David Cameron said “There are no plans to appoint a new envoy on climate change at this time.” Opposition politicians said it showed Cameron had given up any pretence of leadership on climate change and that he was sending out the wrong signals by not filling the role.

Votes should be based on the facts. Lorraine Allanson, of Friends of Ryedale Gas Exploration, writing in The Malton Mercury, says some members of Ryedale District Council’s planning committee had pre-determined views and should not have voted against Third Energy’s fracking application. She said some councillors opposed the application because of fears for the future. “Councillors should only vote on the facts in front of them”, she said.

Anti-fracking independent wins East Riding of Yorkshire Council by-election. Andy Strangeway, standing on an anti-fracking independent ticket, won the by-election for Pocklington Provincial ward with 1,032 votes. The Conservative candidate, Paul West came 2nd with 980 votes. In 2015 the Conservatives took all three seats in the ward. Result

6 April 2016

Some controls on fracking came into force today but not all. A government consultation on protected areas has not yet been published. DrillOrDrop report

World heritage sites ‘at risk from harmful industries’Energy Voice covers a report by WWF which says half the  natural world heritage sites are at risk from harmful industrial activities, such as mining, dredging or drilling for oil and gas.

Overview of chronic oral toxicity values for chemicals present in hydraulic fracturing fluids, flowback and produced waters. A paper in Environmental Science & Technology comments on “a significant knowledge gap that exists to assess the potential human health hazards associated with hydraulic fracturing”.

BP sets up shale gas operation In China. OilPrice.com reports on the details of BP’s production sharing agreement with China’s CNPC for the development of shale gas resources in the Neijiang-Dazu deposit in the Sichuan Basin. The website says the agreement is a win-win for both companies despite cheap gas and the distant prospects of prices improving.

BP ends 34-year sponsorship of Edinburgh International FestivalThe BBC reports that BP has not renewed its sponsorship of the festival, citing “an extremely challenging business environment”. Opponents of the company’s sponsorship have welcomed the move.

Why the British Museum should accept BP’s money? Michael Skapinker, in the FT, responding to calls for the British Museum to cut its ties with BP, says the fight against climate change will not be advanced by refusing sponsorship for exhibitions.

Oil prices jump 5 percent after surprise U.S. crude stockpile drawReuters reports oil prices rose 5 percent, their biggest advance in three weeks, after the U.S. government reported a surprise draw in domestic crude stockpiles versus market expectations for a new record high.

Scottish carbon capture research body wins £2.8m worth of funding. Energy Voice reports that the research partnership, Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage, has taken the biggest cut of a £4m fund from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council created to lower emissions in the UK. The partnership includes Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Strathclyde universities and the British Geological Survey. The money will be used on three projects to develop cost-effective carbon capture technologies.

Yorkshire council urged to protect against fracking impactThe Yorkshire Post reports on a study by county councillors which calls for consideration of the collective impact of fracking wells across the country, as well as the merits of individual applications. It says “A proliferation of well sites in a concentrated area could impact negatively upon tourism – one of North Yorkshire’s key industries.” But says buffer zones around national parks could be hard to achieve in planning terms. It also calls for close monitoring of health and the environment around fracking sites and suggests companies should be forced to invest in bonds to pay for any clean up.

Westbury and Warminster anti-fracking groups step up their efforts. The Wiltshire Times reports on increased efforts by local groups in their campaign against fracking.

YP Letters: Fracking raises questions of democratic right. Paul Morgan, writing in The Yorkshire Post, asks about the definition of local people in the context of fracking and who should decide on the definition.

5 April 2016

INEOS plans private shale gas meetings for parish councillors. Anti-fracking campaigners describe it as “sham consultation” and “slick PR”. DrillOrDrop report

Chester ‘fracking’ sites are near earthquake epicentre. The Chester Chronicle picks up details from our report on IGas acquisition of land near Chester.

Bridge Trafford Community Protection Camp. Reports on social media say a new camp has been established on Warrington Road, opposite Ince Lane, in Bridge Trafford, where IGas has acquired a new potential exploration site.

Minister defends ‘sensible’ decision to cut Yorkshire carbon capture cash. The Yorkshire Post reports the Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, defending the decision to cancel the £1bn competition for a pilot CCS scheme. One of the contenders, the White Rose scheme at the Drax power station, would have created thousands of jobs and helped to establish Yorkshire as a world leader in CCS technology. Mrs Leadsom said there would be a new CCS strategy by the end of the year. A review by KPMG recommended support for the potential of CCS. It said energy industries could play a huge role in future economic growth. CCS would allow time to develop renewable energy, the TUC regional secretary Bill Adams said at the launch in Leeds.

BBC Ipsos Mori poll in Scotland on policy issues. The BBC asked voters in Scotland to rank policies from 1-10. Increasing NHS spending was rated 8.3, the highest response in the survey, all students from Scotland should be able to attend Scottish universities for free scored 8.1, and a ban on fracking scored 6.2.

6 Colorado teenagers file appeal in fracking and climate lawsuitEcoWatch reports that six youth plaintiffs appeared before Denver District Court Judge Eric Elliff’s adverse decision to their fracking and climate change lawsuit. In his decision, Judge Elliff affirmed the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s order to deny the fracking petition brought by the young plaintiffs, determining that the commission is required to “strike a balance between the regulation of oil and gas operations and protecting public health, the environment and wildlife resources.”

4 April 2015

Breaking: Planning Inspectorate sets date for submission of report by inspector at Cuadrilla fracking inquiry. DrillorDrop report

March 2106 fracking headlines. DrillOrDrop digest of the past month’s news.

UK gas prices fall 38% in March yr-on-yrNatural Gas Europe reports that UK natural gas prices in March 2016 fell 38% from the same month of the previous year because of the ongoing slump in global commodities markets, increased global LNG supply and a mild winter limiting demand. The system average price for March 2016 recorded by system operator National Grid was 29.28 pence/therm (0.999226 p/kWh), falling 38% from 47.21 p/th the previous March.

The oil price and the impact of Opec’s failing states. Nick Butler, writing for The FT, reports on the impact of falling oil prices on Venezuela, Libya and Algeria. He says: “The long-promised freeze in production by a number of Opec states may finally be agreed in the next few weeks. But it will be too little and too late. If Saudi Arabia and the other producers want to see prices rise, only a serious and sustained cut in output will suffice. Until that happens, the renewed fall that we have seen over the last two weeks should not be a surprise.”

Anti-fracking pavement art draws in the crowds. The Kirkintilloch Herald reports anti-fracking campaigners in East Dunbartonshire marked the 5th anniversary of the Blackpool fracking-induced earthquake on 1st April by created a ‘frack-quake’ pavement art which generated a lot of conversation with passers-by outside the Kirkintilloch Regent. The paper says campaigners believe structural damage would occur to properties as well as serious issues of pollution and water contamination if fracking is allowed to go ahead in East Dunbartonshire.

Energy letters. Paul Linderman, writing to The Blackpool Gazette, says: “I really do feel that some of your information on fracking on the Fylde is far from un-biased and that it is actually could be detrimental to the fiscal growth of the Fylde”.

3 April 2016

British Museum must sever its links with BP. In a letter to The Guardian, actors including Mark Ruffalo, Mark Rylance and Emma Thompson, join writers such as Margaret Atwood, Jeremy Leggett and Naomi Klein in calling on the British Museum’s new director, Hartwig Fischer, to end BP’s sponsorship of exhibitions. “BP’s business plan is incompatible with a stable climate, and the company is using its influence to lobby against effective climate policies”, they say. Guardian news story

2 April 2016

Cheshire farmer says his land is “under siege” from new IGas sites 500m away. DrillOrDrop report     5/4/16)

1 April 2016

As anti-fracking campaigners mark the 5th anniversary of the Preese Hall earthquake with a ‘wake-up’ protest, DrillOrDrop looks at what makes people take an interest in fracking.

Five years since fracking caused earthquake on the Fylde coast… but could it happen again? The Blackpool Gazette reports on the views of people who experienced the earthquake in 2011, the measures put in place since then and the views of the industry and local MP.

Fracking company buys plot near city less than two months after abandoning original plan. The Chester Standard reports that IGas has bought a six-acre plot of land near the city. Land Registry documents show a subsidiary of the organisation called Star Energy paid £141,000 for the site at the junction of Warrington Road and Ince Lane in Bridge Trafford. The news comes less than two months after IGas announced it had abandoned plans to drill for coal bed methane gas at both Duttons Lane in Upton and Salter’s Lane, Mickle Trafford.  The Chester Chronicle says anti-fracking campaigners are considering setting up a camp at the site.

As US shale drillers suffer, even the bankrupt keep pumping oil. Analysis by Reuters reveals that more than 50 North American oil and gas producers have entered bankruptcy since early 2015. These firms account for only about 1 percent of U.S. output but Deloitte says a third of shale producers face bankruptcy risks this year. Despite this, there’s been little impact onus oil production, Reuters says.

One in every two barrels of US oil comes from frackingGeographical Magazine reports fracked oil has grown from two per cent of US oil 15 years ago to 50 per cent of America’s daily oil production. A trickle of 102,000 barrels per day in 2000 has become a flood of 4.3 million barrels per day in 2015. So much growth has allowed the country’s oil production to increase faster than any time in its history.

Costain says UK shale test sites neededEnergy Voice reports on comments by Adrian Finn, Costain’s process technology manager that there is a need for operators to establish test sites in the UK to determine the amount and composition of recoverable shale gas for economic assessments to be made. “Without knowing gas compositions, the potential markets for gas and the costs of production cannot be established”, he said, “so the economic feasibility of shale gas production in a given area is unknown”.

Residents’ worries remain despite watchdog eventThe Driffield Times & Post reports many people who attended a “Meet the Regulators” event in Driffield remain unconvinced about shale gas. Malcom Hara, who came from Cherry Burton to speak with regulators, said the event failed to reassure him. He told the paper: “I get the feeling that the various agencies are committed and they think they regulations are perfect. But experience from other countries proves that’s not the case.”

Candidates share views on fracking. The Pocklington Post reports fracking is a hot topic among voters who will elect a new councillor for Pocklington Provincial Ward on 7th April. The paper lists the views of the candidates.

Oil Prices. This Bloomberg QuickTake says is “oil is so much more than a fuel. It’s a force even bigger than its trillion-dollar market. It’s a weapon, a strategic asset, a curse. It’s a maker and spoiler of fortunes, a leading indicator and an echo chamber. Each has a part in determining oil prices.” The article charges changes in oil prices. It argues: “remedies for global warming could have a dramatic effect on oil, if governments favour policies to keep crude in the ground. But oil companies say the future includes rising energy demand and population growth, making oil an important fuel for decades to come.”


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