Regulation

Third Energy “not fit to frack” – local mother warns councillors in last-minute appeal

yorks roseA mother of two has made a last minute appeal to North Yorkshire councillors to refuse Third Energy’s application to frack at Kirby Misperton.

Nicky Mason, who lives in Great Habton, a mile from the proposed operation, spoke at the planning meeting on Friday about an incident at a Third Energy site which breached two conditions of the company’s environmental permit.

She began her submission:

“The reason for me standing before you today is a simple one, to try and protect the future for my children and the environment in which they are to grow up”.

In an email sent over the weekend to members of North Yorkshire’s planning committee, Ms Mason said the incident showed a failure of self-regulation and raised questions about Third Energy’s safety record in the area. She said:

“The message for the Planning Committee is clear – Third Energy are not fit to frack.”

The committee reconvenes tomorrow (Monday 23 May 2016) to hear more evidence about the application and to make its decision.

Incident details

The incident raised by Ms Mason concerns the venting and flaring of just under 75,000 cubic meters of gas. This followed an operation to deal with a leak revealed during a conventional workover at the Malton 4 well in November 2015. About 90% of the gas was nitrogen and the remainder methane.

There was at least one complaint about smells. But Third Energy did not report the incident immediately to the Environment Agency (EA) as required under the permit conditions.

A report written by the EA in January 2016 and obtained following a Freedom of Information Act request recorded two permit breaches by Third Energy.

It said:

“This odour complaint is classed as substantiated and according to the management systems and permit should have been notified to the Environment Agency. In this case it was not (although was reported to Ryedale Council)”.

The Environment Agency classified the breaches as category 3 and 4 (where category 1 is the most serious and 4 the least serious).

Third Energy said in a statement the leak from a thread on a valve was detected during a conventional workover. It was described as minor and there was no risk to human or animal health, and no risk of environmental damage.

But Ms Mason said:

“The main issue is that there was a breach of their permit in not reporting the problem, not what was actually leaked.”

She was also concerned that the leak was picked up only on a reworking of the well and not on Third Energy’s monitoring systems.

“Is this equipment not sensitive enough to detect in their words “minor leaks?” When was it last checked? It could have been leaking for months.”

“If nothing else this breach of permit shows a failure in self-regulation between company and the EA. They [Third Energy] even had out-of-date Agency contact details for reporting issues! Surely a confirmation email between both parties is expected as standard to ensure any issues have been received and recorded.”

Third Energy said in its statement that “standard operations such as pressure let downs and venting are not operations that require reporting to regulators”.

But Ms Mason questioned this:

“Surely we should know if gas is leaking and vented so a detailed record can be kept of fugitive emissions. And if it was not necessary to report these things then why did EA assess it as a breach?”

The Environment Agency concluded that Third Energy’s operational systems had worked appropriately but it required the company to revise its procedures for notification and reporting “considering the requirements of Schedule 5 of the Environmental permit”.

Concerns

Ms Mason is a member of the Third Energy Community Liaison Group, established “to build an open and constructive relationship between the local community and Third Energy”. Considering this, she said:

“It came as somewhat of a surprise to me to then discover that Third Energy had encountered operational problems within the last six months that we as residents were unaware of.

“Third Energy is required by law to notify the Environment Agency within 24 hours of such an incident according to the terms of their environmental permit. They didn’t. In fact, the Environment Agency was not informed until late January 2016.

‘Incidents like the one documented only bring to light the weaknesses and true nature of a company with little concern for the local area and community.

‘I, as a local resident, have no confidence in their capacity to act in an open, transparent and competent manner with this highly risky and potentially dangerous process.”

Environment Agency report on Third Energy incident

Monday’s committee session

The planning committee meets again at 9.30am tomorrow (Monday 23 May 2016). It will hear final comments against the proposal before hearing from about 14 people who support it. The list of speakers includes:

  • John Dewar, Operations Director, Third Energy
  • Rasik Valand, Chief Executive, Third Energy
  • Ken Cronin, Chief Executive of the industry body UK Onshore Oil and Gas
  • Jonathan Foster, Director Petroleum Safety Services
  • Lee Petts, Managing Director of the waste treatment company, Remsol, and Chief Executive, Onshore Energy Services Group
  • Andrew Buroni, health consultant
  • Lorraine Allanson, Friends of Ryedale Gas Exploration and owner Rains Farm Holidays

DrillOrDrop will be reporting live updates from the committee and we’ll bring you the result when it happens.


This report is part of DrillOrDrop’s Rig Watch project. Rig Watch receives funding from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. More details here

14 replies »

  1. If a local mother or activist can influence and dictate the outcome of nationally impoort issues with complex engineering medical and environmental understanding and knowledge based on her Internet experience then we are as a country in deep trouble the same as having all of these profession National Institute like DECC HSE being completely imcompetent as claims by the antis. Are they qualified to make these decisions on the basis of facts and figures or is it just assuming for the worst?

    • I think anybody stating a matter of fact indicating breaches of regulation should be heard, I think you are discriminating if you don’t. Clearly you have some issues with women. Im calling Misogyny.

      • Jimmy Northern you cannot be serious, your comment is laughable.

        TW doesn’t need me to defend any comment he/she made, he was merely responding to the article which clearly refers to a “local mother”.
        How you can even suggest there is comments of a misogynous nature or issues with women is poor in the extreme.

    • Typo Correction clarification of my post:

      If a local mother or activist can influence and dictate the outcome of nationally important issues with complex engineering medical and environmental understanding and knowledge based on his/her(referring to the activist) Internet experience then we are as a country in deep trouble the same as having all of these professional National Institute like DECC HSE being completely incompetent in professional judgment and decision (and having no regards for general public safety in their professional and official duty of care) as claims by the antis. Are they (both the local activist and the officer who are charged with these duties) qualified to make these decisions on the basis of facts and figures or is it just assuming for the worst?

  2. TW honestly these activist’s are just a joke, and not a funny one, but sick.

    The activist brigade are just making complete dicks of themselves with some of their assertions and so-called evidence against fracking.

    The sooner they are all sent off packing back to the woods and forests where they can live happily ever after, the better, for everyone.

    • MICHAEL DOBBIE.

      I can only laugh at your comments.

      I’m certain that no one from the Oil and Gas industry would leave the sort of childish, uneducated , foul mouthed comments you do. Therefore ( my opinion ) I feel that you can only be a very bitter shale investor who is not enough of a man to accept that In life, you don’t always win.

      You have made a lot of accusations and sweeping statements during your time on this forum and yet when challenged have NEVER, YES NEVER backed up your comments with any evidence or proof.

      You are a liability to the fracking industry and your attitude/comments will only galvanize people’s determination to fight against it stronger.

      • I wonder if he could just possibly be the rather desperate “michaelgd” on the Hot Copper stock board who spends his life trying to talk up AJ Lucas shares from the bottom of the metaphorical Marianas Trench where they are currently languishing?

        I can’t think why else he bothers coming here trolling

  3. In my experience these operations are routine and not reportable. Perhaps this has changed and every time a cow breaks wind it needs to be reported to the EA. We are getting into the situation where every resident is an amateur expert on oil and gas operations, FOE replaces the HSE and the EA and nothing gets done without a lot of nonsensical complaints. The situation the companies currently find themselves in is self inflicted as they (UKOOG) kept bending over and accepting everything that was thrown at them. Many of the EA graduates and some of the DECC people have no field experience but the fault lies with the operators for not standing up to them.

    Let’s see what happens tomorrow. Appeal by Mr. Dewar or JR by the anti industry greenies.

  4. Paul – when you can find a cow that farts 75,000 cubic meters of gas do let me know.

    By the way we protesters are not “anti-industry” – that is a fatuous thing to suggest. We are anti-fracking – haven’t you been listening?

    • 90% nitrogen. It is insignificant. We discussed sheep before. A decent sized flock of sheep or herd of cows will quickly pass the methane emitted in this discharge. But fortunately the authorities understand that this is a non event. Glad to learn that you are all pro industry but presumably want it somewhere else. To a certain extent I agree that third energy may not be the best resourced company to be taking the lead on this new industry. It would be better if it were BP or Shell or Total but any company with downstream assets will shy away as they will be open to harassment from the core protest against anything group.

  5. Leaving aside the usual tiresome personal abuse by pro-fracking trolls for anyone who voices concern over fracking in their community, the key issue here is regulation – or, as happens in practice, self-regulation. Third Energy clearly should have reported this leak to the EA within 24 hours, as stated in their planning conditions for the well-site, but failed to do so.

    This incident shines a light on how regulations work in this country. Oil and Gas companies are effectively asked to police themselves and visits by the regulators are almost unheard of. When they do visit, they arrange a time that is convenient for the gas company – there are never any spot-checks, unannounced inspections or random visits, as you might expect from a ‘gold standard’ regulatory system, as we are constantly told exists in the UK. In fact, the opposite is true – the EA only get involved if there is something major – like the mini-earthquakes at Preese Hall – or if the public make a huge fuss about something.

    The rest of the time, the gas companies effectively regulate themselves, and only have to send print-outs or computer information to the EA every six months or so. Normally the EA and HSE don’t ever visit sites unless they are called in by the company. The fact that Third Energy failed to report this incident shows that self-regulation relies on the company doing the right thing. How many other incidents go unreported?

    Also, this is by no means the first time Third Energy have failed to meet safety regulations or planning conditions – there is a long trail of incidents ranging from a sour gas leak in their pipeline, problems with flooding, staff accidents and clashes with the HSE regarding well-casing design, procedures and poor maintenance regimes.

    For more on this – and the FOI documents to prove it – please go to http://frackfreeryedale.org/thirdenergysafetyfailures

  6. So quick to report the story of a local mother voicing concerns, but not so quick to write about the NY mother who wrote to Councillors about how safe and low impact fracking is across the border in PA, huh Ruth?

  7. @Bill: I must confess that, although I regularly check these pages, I get the distinct feeling that Ruth is anti-fracking based on the sheer number of posts focussing on the antis. The number of peer reviewed papers in support of fracking being safe vastly outnumber the papers suggesting it isn’t safe. Note the most important bit: peer reviewed. If you just look through the pages of http://frackland.blogspot.co.uk/ this geologist cites countless studies showing fracking to be safe if proper procedures are in place.

    • Are you DIVI from the Igas shareholders, share chat webpage ?

      I have clicked on to your link and read through a number of political and light hearted news stories.
      Where are all these peer reviewed papers in support of fracking, that you say outnumber the ones against ?

      Maybe you would be kind enough to post them on here, so that we can all see them for the first time.

      Upon receipt, I would be happy to forward a copy of some of the worlds leading institutes/organisations that all warn about the dangers of fracking.

      I look forward to receiving a copy of your extensive list.

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