INEOS “fires the starting gun” on fracking


The most successful company in last year’s oil and gas licence round has set out a timetable for its plans to frack in three regions of England.

INEOS Shale announced seismic surveying would be carried out this summer and planning applications submitted later in the year.

The company is also advertising for contractors for seismic surveying, security, acquiring land, legal and planning services and environmental monitoring.

Gary Haywood, chief executive of INEOS Shale, said:

“We are firing the starting gun on our programme.”

“We are ramping up the level of activity quite significantly to see if the geology is suitable for the industry in the UK. The economic benefits will be substantial, if the rocks are suitable and it’s successful.”

In December 2015, INEOS was awarded 38 exploration blocks grouped into 21 licence areas, the largest number offered to any company in the government’s 14th licensing round.

INEOS licences

Red areas are licence areas awarded to INEOS in the 14th round. Grey areas are areas licensed in previous rounds and light brown area blocks awarded to other companies.

All the INEOS licences were awarded primarily to explore and develop shale gas. They were clustered in three regions: Cheshire; the East Midlands and South Yorkshire; and the area north and east of York.

INEOS confirmed this morning it was preparing to carrying out 3D seismic surveys in all three regions, though not in every licence. Next week, company executives are meeting parish councillors in all three areas. DrillOrDrop report

Seismic surveying

Seismic Testing Cuadrilla

Seismic surveying. Photo: Frack Off

Seismic surveys are used to provide information on the location and size of oil and gas reservoirs. They use shock waves, generated by thumper trucks or buried explosive charges. Detectors, or geophones, connected by cabling are used to pick up reflections from the shock waves.

Mr Haywood said:

“Up until now, the 3D seismic data that has been shot in England covers around 400-odd kilometres. Over the next 12 months we hope to top that by shooting more seismic data than has ever been shot onshore in the UK.”

“We think the next one to two years will be very important for determining what the potential is for shale in the UK.”

Under the licences terms published in December, INEOS had committed to carrying out 3D seismic surveying in 14 licences within the next five years. It also committed to 2D surveying in 16 licences.

Mr Haywood said INEOS would carry out its seismic surveys in the summer, before lodging planning applications for core drilling later this year.

The company is currently advertising for a seismic survey contractor to “co-ordinate and shoot multiple 2D and 3D seismic surveys. Link

Opponents of fracking say seismic surveying can cause damage, stress and disruption. The public inquiry into Cuadrilla’s application to frack at Preston New Road in Lancashire heard evidence of damage to property. The campaign group, Frack Off, said seismic survey contractors do not have a right to access land without prior agreement.

In advice to people in areas where surveying is being carried out, it said:

“If you are surprised by contractors on your land, you should refuse access, document any activity, damage, times, dates, locations and take pictures”.

Exploration wells

Mr Haywood said the company expects to establish during 2017 whether sites are viable for fracking. Planning applications to carry out test fracks would be submitted at the beginning of 2018, he said.

Under INEOS’s licence terms published so far, the company has  made firm commitments to drill 20 wells in 15 licence areas within five years. Of these wells, 13 would be fracked.

However, online information, currently unavailable, with the tender advert for seismic surveying (see image below) suggests that the company is considering many more wells in each licence area. A licence well density example suggested 30 well sites in a 10km x 10km licence block, with up to 396 horizontal wells.

INEOS well spacing

Since publication of this post, an INEOS spokesperson said:

“The graphic and description is wrong and completely our fault. The correct number should be 10 pads with 10-12 wells.”


There is already opposition to INEOS’s plans. At least two demonstrations are planned outside meetings with councillors next week. DrillOrDrop report

Mr Haywood said:

“There is no question that there is some level of opposition and we are aware of that, and surveys have shown there is not much movement on that.”

“We did events in Scotland when we talked to 5,000 people but found that they don’t have the facts and read scare stories in the press.”

“We are in this for business so people will be cautious about believing what we will tell them. We would say listen to the arguments and listen to the independent bodies like the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering.”


As well as the seismic surveying contractor, INEOS is inviting tenders for:

  • Legal real estate resilience and security services
  • Legal real estate (land) services
  • Legal planning services
  • Regional land agent services
  • Environmental monitoring services

The deadline for applications is 10 May 2016. Link to tender page

Last month, INEOS advertised for consultants to “manage, advise, negotiate and deliver” on planning consents and to “scope and prepare environmental reports and information required for the planning and consenting process”.

In 2014, the company recruited what it described as three “pioneers” of the US fracking industry. The consultants, Dan Steward, Nick Steinsberger and Kent Bowker, all previously worked for Mitchell Energy, the US company established by George Mitchell, who pioneered hydraulic fracturing in the Barnett Shale in Texas.

  • The quotes in this article are from an interview Mr Haywood gave to the Press Association and confirmed by DrillOrDrop with INEOS today.

Updated 6 May 2016 to include graphic of well site spacing

Updated on 11 May 2016 to include INEOS comment that its graphic on well site spacing is incorrect.





1 reply »

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s