DrillOrDrop’s digest of last month’s news about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas developments in the UK and around the world, including:
- Reaction to Brexit vote and implications for onshore oil and gas
- 180,000+ petition supports Lancashire fracking decision
- 100,000+ call on ministers to publish climate change committee report on shale gas
- Government confirms ban on fracking from the surface in protected areas
- Minister refuses national limits on fracking density
- Scottish parliament supports ban on fracking
- Northern Ireland ends permitted development rights for oil and gas exploration
- UKOG pays £3.5m for drilling licence in West Sussex Weald
- InfraStrata abandons Woodburn oil well.
- Egdon applies for oil production permission at Wressle site in Lincolnshire
- More delays for IGas shale plans in north Nottinghamshire
- Campaigners warn of legal challenge to Kirby Misperton fracking decision
- Government changes to PEDL licences slip out
- All nine Horse Hill anti-fracking protesters acquitted at trial
- Anti-fracking campaigner, Tina Rothery, refuses to pay Cuadrilla’s £55k+ legal bill or provide financial details
- US shale boss, “Frack Master” accused of $80 investment fraud
- Academics call for more money for fracking research but refuse to be advocates for shale industry
Read on for more details, more stories and links.
30 June 2016
UK sets ambitious new 2030s carbon target. The Guardian reports on the government announcement of a new target to reduce carbon emissions by 57% by 2030 on 1990 levels. House of Commons Votes and Proceedings, Government information on carbon budgets, Committee on Climate Change welcomes Government backing for fifth carbon budget and continued ambition to meet 2050 target.
Brexit won’t mean bonfire of EU green regulations insist lawyers. Planning Portal reports comments by lawyers and ecologists that EU directives and derived regulations on wildlife protection and air quality are likely to remain in place, despite the referendum outcome.
Fracking legal aid plea is abandoned. The Yorkshire Post reports that two Ryedale District councillors have withdrawn their motion calling on the council to set aside funds towards the cost of a judicial review of North Yorkshire’s decision to approve fracking at Kirby Misperton.
Climate change: UK to set new emissions target. BBC News reports that ministers are expected to announce that the UK will cut carbon emissions by 57% by 2032 compared with 1990 levels. He says there will be a warning note from the Committee on Climate Change that the government needs new policies to back up ambitions. The CCC is expected to say ministers must support carbon capture and storage to allow fossil fuels to continue to be burned. £1bn of funding was cut for CCS last year.
Teens to study fracking and the use of drones in new A-level. The Telegraph reports that students taking a new environmental science A-level will study the use of drones to monitor pests and poaching. The syllabus also includes climate change, fracking, wildlife conservation and future mineral supplies.
York director plans anti fracking drama. Minster FM News reports that a York based film maker is producing a short horror film about fracking in North Yorkshire. Dave Thorp tells the radio station “I was angry and frustrated by the decisions made by councillors and local governments which seemed to fly in the face of the mood of the locals. I decided to shoot a short horror film to raise awareness, and drive further discussion about the process and the possible consequences. It’s not a documentary. It’s a drama”
29 June 2016
Government confirms ban on fracking from surface of protected areas in England but refuses greater controls. DrillOrDrop report
DrillOrDrop’s round up of council news on fracking and onshore oil and gas
North Yorkshire fracking decision. Rachel Maskell, Labour MP for York, criticises the approval of Third Energy’s planning application to frack at Kirby Misperton. In her blog, she says: “Rather than the frenzy for fracking, the UK could bring about 21st Century solutions that addresses climate change, provides greater energy security, lowers bills, develops high skilled and secure jobs and ensures a long-term boost for our economy.”
Ignore climate change at your peril, Lord Browne warns oil groups. The former BP chief executive warns in the FT that oil companies could go bankrupt if they don’t address the risks created by climate change and invest more in renewable energy. “If society is saying it is time to change our energy mix, I do think the big players should be involved in the change. If they are not involved in that change in a productive way, they will be made to do so.”
Amber Rudd speech to the Business and Climate Summit. In a speech this morning, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary says “climate change has “not been downgraded as a threat. It remains one of the most serious long-term risks to our economic and national security”. She adds: “Securing our energy supply, keeping bills low and building a low carbon energy infrastructure: the challenges remain the same. Our commitment also remains the same.”
YP Letters: Council raises genuine concerns on fracking. Michael Farman, writing in The Yorkshire Post, says “It is encouraging to see that the East Riding Council is at least waking up to the threat of fracking in East Yorkshire. He refers to the recent meeting at which the council passed a motion expressing concern about fracking. “This motion does not, of course, pre-empt any future decision by the council’s Planning Committee over fracking applications, but it shows that the councillors have become aware that opposition to fracking is not restricted to a few tree-huggers and camp-dwellers”.
Professor claims fracking views linked to loss of online access. Times Higher Education reports claims by emeritus professor, David Smythe, that Glasgow University withdrew his online access to email and journals because of his views on fracking. The university says there was a routine review of email accounts.
Fracking potential to be assessed in Runcorn and Widnes. The Liverpool Echo reports comments by Richard Longden, of INEOS: “It’s very early days and we are starting to engage with communities around Cheshire who were at the Cheshire Show and we have held meetings with councillors in Frodsham.” He added: “I wouldn’t want to speculate what the time scales might be but it’s some way out.”
28 June 2016
Barry Gardiner appointed shadow energy and climate change secretary. Business Green reports that Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North, is appointed Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary to replace Lisa Nandy. The site says he has been a consistent advocate for more ambitious climate action.
Alan Whitehead steps down as shadow energy and climate change minister. Business Green reports that Alan Whitehead has become the latest shadow minister to leave Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench team. The shadow energy and climate change minister resigned less than 24 hours after Barry Gardiner was promoted to Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary.
Leave vote makes UK’s transition to clean energy harder, say experts. The Guardian reports Brexit has made the UK’s challenge to a build a clean, secure and affordable energy system significantly harder. Experts expect higher customer bills and delayed or cancelled projects.
UK shale and Brexit. Nick Grealy in No Hot Air reflects on what impact Brexit will have on shale gas development in the UK.
UK ministers to approve world-leading carbon emissions target. The Guardian reports that ministers will approve a world-leading carbon emissions reductions target for the early 2030s. Green groups and industry had feared that the EU referendum would cause the UK government to miss the deadline on Thursday for accepting carbon targets from statutory climate advisers. But a Whitehall source confirmed the fifth carbon budget would be agreed before the end of the month as required by the Climate Change Act.
UK Oil & Gas Investments reports wider loss. In unaudited results for the six months to the end of March 2016, UKOG reports a retained loss of £1.26m compared with 435,000 for the same time in the previous year. The company put this down to the Horse Hill flow tests, resulting in higher professional service costs including external consultants.
Obama admin approved over 1,500 offshore fracking permits in Gulf of Mexico and mainstream media has ignored it. DeSmog reports how the mainstream media ignored a story by the independent news website TruthOut that the Obama administration had approved offshore fracking wells. The wells were in the Gulf of Mexico and approvals continued during the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil disaster.
27 June 2016
Government agrees another exploration licence change. DrillOrDrop report
Anti-fracking campaigners oppose application for Sussex oil exploration licence. DrillOrDrop report
What’s happening this week? DrillOrDrop update on events and key dates about fracking and onshore oil and gas in the next seven days.
Five ways Brexit could impact on energy and climate. Greenpeace Energy Desk says Brexit could delay international action on climate change, put expansion plans for Heathrow in doubt, reduce the carbon price, reset the fight against air pollution and threaten energy investment and security.
Brexit: The Rise of Andrea Leadsom and What This Might Mean for Climate Change. DeSmogUK puts the odds on Brexit supporter Andrea Leadsom becoming Chancellor at 2/1. She could also move up to become Secretary of State, in place of Amber Rudd, a remainer supporter, with whom relations are said to be strained.
Lisa Nandy resigns from Labour front bench amid leadership bid speculation. Business Green reports that Lisa Nandy has resigned as shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary. Citing a Labour source, the New Statesman’s George Eaton reported this morning that Nandy would stand against Corbyn in a leadership election.
Caroline Lucas denies rumours she is set to join Labour shadow cabinet. Business Green reports a statement from the Green Party that rumours that its MP Caroline Lucas had been invited to be shadow Energy Secretary are incorrect.
Ministers continuing to consider CCC report. Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, in reply to a question by Caroline Lucas, says a report by the Committee on Climate Change on the capability of shale gas with UK carbon budgets will be laid before parliament “in due course”. Transcript
David Lenigas appointed Executive Chairman of Doriemus PLC. The company announces Mr Lenigas replaces Grant Roberts, who becomes non-executive director. Doriemus has a 10% interest in: Brockham oil field (PL235) 6 miles from Gatwick; a 20% interest in the Lidsey oil field (PL241) north of Bognor Regis; 10% interest in Horse Hill Developments which in turn has a 65% interest in the Horse Hill oil discovery near Gatwick.
Democratic National Committee rejects fracking ban on party platform. Energy in Depth reports that the DNC has rejected the push from anti-fracking groups to include a ban on fracking as part of the Democratic Party platform. The pro-fracking website says this indicates that the anti-energy agenda is out of touch with the needs of everyday Americans.
Guilden Sutton survey shows 76% of residents oppose fracking. The Chester Chronicle reports more than three-quarters of adults in Guilden Sutton, where seismic testing was carried out last October, oppose fracking. More than ¾ of adults in the village responded and only 9% of respondents thought fracking was a god idea. The survey was conducted by Frack Free Guilden Sutton and overseen by a third party data statistician.
25 June 2016
“Frack Master” who advised UK politicians accused of $80m investment fraud. DrillOrDrop report
Reaction to Brexit vote
Brexit: Environmentalists fear ‘bonfire’ of regulations designed to fight climate change and protect wildlife. The Independent reports regulations set in place to help fight climate change and protect Britain’s wildlife may be destroyed following the Brexit result. Campaigners have argued the Brexit vote could have a “devastating” effect on the UK environment since more than 70% of environmental safeguards are based on European legislation. Greenpeace suggests rules on fracking could be lifted.
How can we make Brexit work for the environment? Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, writing in The Guardian says “We will now strive with all our might to make Brexit work for the environment. But we’re going to be doing it from the grassroots up.”
Brexit: The green economy reacts. Business Green sums up reaction to the Brexit vote.
Why Brexit freaks out so many scientists. National Geographic reports the Brexit votes will disrupt scientific funding and the UK’s stature in European and international research communities. It predicts there could be a brain drain of researchers and a risk that environmental regulations are rolled back, including climate change policy and the Paris Agreement.
Brexit could have serious repercussions for the climate. Grist.org suggests that an economic slowdown would imply a drop in UK carbon emission but also a slowdown in the ratification process of the Paris Agreement.
UK climate plans in limbo as Brexit chaos deepens. Climate Home asks six questions on climate and the EU that need answering in the wake of the Brexit vote: -What’s the short term climate outlook?, Will it hurt the Paris climate agreement?, Is EU climate ambition over for good?, Are climate sceptics coming back to power?, How will this affect UK energy security?, Could it impact climate finance flows?
Opinion: What a post-Brexit Tory government could do to the environment. Greenpeace Energy Desk looks at environmental views, including on fracking, of the potential candidates for Conservative Party leader: Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Priti Patel, Chris Grayling, Ian Duncan Smith, Andrea Leadsom, Owen Paterson and Theresa May.
EU out vote puts UK commitment to Paris climate agreement in doubt. The Guardian suggests the UK’s future participation to the Paris Agreement is now in doubt.
Environmental sector faces huge challenge from Brexit. ENDS Report says “The UK must now decide how it will unravel domestic-EU regulation, and is likely to face renegotiation of participation in dozens of international treaties”.
24 June 2016
Anti-fracking campaigner refuses to pay Cuadrilla’s £55k+ legal bill or give financial information to court. Cuadrilla considers its next step. DrillOrDrop report, Blackpool Gazette and The Guardian and The Mirror (30/6/2016)
“We cannot let the UK return to the days of ‘the dirty man of Europe’. Craig Bennett, of Friends of the Earth says following the referendum decision to vote Leave, “Protections for our birds and wildlife, our beaches and rivers, must not be sacrificed in the name of cutting away so-called EU ‘red tape’.”
Quakers’ warning over fracking. The Yorkshire Post reports local Quakers have become the latest to speak out against the hugely controversial decision to allow fracking to go ahead in Ryedale saying it is “incompatible with the responsible use of the earth’s resources.” Pickering and Hull Area Quaker Meeting, which represent Quakers in Ryedale, the Yorkshire Coast and East Yorkshire, said fossil fuels “had to stay in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change.”
MP ‘disappointed’ after failure to find oil at Woodburn. The Carrickfergus Times reports disappointment by East Antrim MP, Sammy Wilson, at the failure of the exploration project at Woodburn Forest to find any oil. The DUP representative said he had hoped that the presence of hydrocarbons at the Carrick site would have had economic benefits for the whole region.
23 June 2016
Academics can’t be advocates for fracking, conference told. DrillOrDrop report
Conference told of “scandalous” shortage of money for research on fracking engagement. DrillOrDrop report
22 June 2016
Cuadrilla says government rule change means it will keep most of Lancashire fracking licence. DrillOrDrop report
More time for comments on IGas shale gas plans for Tinker Lane. DrillOrDrop report
Federal judge strikes down Obama administration’s fracking rules. NPR reports A federal judge in Wyoming has struck down the Obama administration’s regulations on hydraulic fracturing, ruling that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management doesn’t have the authority to establish rules over fracking on federal and Indian lands.
Shropshire looks safe from gas drilling tests as licence deadline looms. The Shropshire Star reports the area around Dudleston, near Ellesmere, is part of a drilling licence that has a clause requiring that a certain number of test drills be completed by a certain date, or else the licence has to be handed back to the Government. The deadline to complete the test drills in the area is June 30, so unless there is an exceptional intervention, the licence will need to be handed back, the paper says.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council reportedly approves a motion noting concerns about fracking. The motion rejected proposals that may result in an adverse impact on the environment, local communities and landscape. For full wording see DrillOrDrop post (under Wednesday 22 June 2016)
Offer to IGas bondholders. Pareto Securities AS announces it is offering to buy from holders of IGas’s USD 165 million senior secured bonds. The offer, on behalf of an undisclosed client who is said not to be affiliated with IGas, is open from today until 5pm central eastern time on 4 July 2016.
People near Wyoming fracking town show elevated levels of toxic chemicals. Inside Climate News reports on research which suggests gas emissions were probably making their way into people’s bodies. The study was small and not peer-reviewed and is not conclusive proof. The researchers said the results showed a larger investigation was warranted.
Fracking fears remain in Hampshire despite council assurances. The Portsmouth News reports that fears remain over fracking in Hampshire, despite reassurances from the county council over the process. The paper says fracking was the top of the agenda when residents from Horndean, Rowlands Castle and Clanfield gathered at the area’s latest community forum last night. Chris Murray, head of strategic planning, said there were no plans in the county but some residents were not reassured.
Mid Ulster Council allows exploratory drilling in Lough Neagh without EIA. Mid Ulster Mail reports that Mid Ulster Council planners allowed 28 boreholes to be dug in the bed of Lough Neagh, a special protection area, without an Environmental Impact Assessment. A floating drill rig appear on the Lough two weeks ago. The work was approved by the head planner, Chris Boomer, without consideration by the council’s planning committee. But the paper says the mechanism that allowed him to take the decision was a change to the council’s delegation scheme submitted two weeks before drilling started.
SNP accused of U-turn on fracking by Dumbarton and the Vale’s MSP. The Dunbarton Reporter covers comments by Labour MSP, Jackie Baillie, who says the SNP should apologise to West Dunbartonshire constituents for breaking election promises on fracking after members abstained in a vote on the issue this month.
Confronting the fracking furore with facts. Professor Paul Younger, writing for the Geological Society of London blog, says “Like any industrial development, there may well be reasons for rejecting shale gas developments – most notably carbon emissions issues, and the noise, accident risks and air quality issues associated with increased traffic movements. These are all matters which the UK planning system deals with routinely for myriad developments. Yet the loud protests against shale gas have tended to focus particularly on the supposed risk of fractures propagating upwards through kilometres of low-permeability strata to cause pollution of ground waters.”
21 June 2016
German government agrees to ban fracking indefinitely. Mail Online quotes Reuters in reporting that Germany’s coalition government has agreed to ban fracking for shale gas indefinitely. But according to the site, environmental groups said the ban did not go far enough and vowed to fight the deal. Test drilling will be allowed but only with the permission of the respective state. The parliament will reassess whether the decision is still valid in 2012. The Guardian and Business Green
EU greenhouse gas emissions at lowest level since 1990. The European Environment Agency inventory on greenhouse gas emissions finds levels fell in 2014, with a 4.1% reduction in emissions to 24.4% below 1990 levels. In absolute terms, greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 1383 million tonnes (Mt) in the EU since 1990, reaching 4282 Mt of CO2 equivalents in 2014. Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director, said: “It is an important step towards reaching our 2030 and 2050 climate targets. To accelerate the transition towards a low-carbon society, we need to further boost our investments in technology and innovation aimed at reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.” Report from Climate Home and The Guardian
How Brexit could make it easier to frack in the UK. Greenpeace Energy Desk reports that almost all of the UK’s environmental regulations on fracking could be removed if the UK votes to leave the EU, according to legal experts. The report says regulations on water use and contamination, the safe use of chemicals, air pollution, noise, climate change, biodiversity and environmental liability are among numerous EU wide agreements enforced by UK regulators. Also covered by The Independent
Legal aid call to fight Kirby Misperton fracking decision. The Yorkshire Post reports Ryedale District Council is to debate a meeting on 7 July to consider help for funding a judicial review of Third Energy’s fracking application. The motion has been put forward by Ed Jowitt and Paul Andrews. Ryedale District had objected to the application.
Fracking Yorkshire: A rock solid case? The Politics Home website carries reaction by Labour’s Rachel Maskell and Kevin Hollinrake for the Conservatives on the North Yorkshire County Council decision on Third Energy’s fracking plans.
One way to solve fracking’s water problem: don’t use water. Bloomberg reports on a paper in Nature Communication which recommends using high-pressure CO2 in fracking wells, instead of water. The study is based on theoretical computer models and requires lab-scale experiments before using it in fracking wells, the authors are quoted as saying.
20 June 2016
Another delay for IGas Misson shale planning application as Notts Co Co asks for more information. DrillOrDrop report
What’s happening this week? DrillOrDrop’s events listing for the seven days ahead.
Shale industry meets for Liverpool conference. DrillOrDrop report
Shell puts revamped shale arm at heart of growth drive. Reuters reports Shell is putting unconventional energy at the heart of its growth plans. Greg Guindry, head of the company’s unconventional business, said it planned to make small acquisitions near its existing North American shale areas from producers struggling in the industry down turn.
Hot mess: states struggle to deal with radioactive fracking waste. The Centre for Public Integrity reports on tons of radioactive materials produced by gas production in the Marcellus Shale. The Centres says its analysis shows are struggling to keep pace with the waste stream, relying largely on industry to self-report and self-regulate. They have been slow to assess and curb the risks from exposure, which can remain radioactive for millennia, it says.
North Ayrshire councillors pass motion opposing fracking. The Daily Record reports North Ayrshire Council has voted in favour of a motion “opposing all fracking and any UGE [unconventional gas extraction]. Cllr Joe Cullinane, the author of the motion tells the paper: “I am delighted that the Council has agreed to say frack off. This vote will be welcomed by people across North Ayrshire who share the environmental concerns around fracking. That an SNP led authority has passed this motion is significant.”
In the birthplace of US oil, methane gas is leaking everywhere. Bloomberg reports that hundreds of thousands of abandoned oil wells in Pennsylvania are the focus of growing alarm. The website says “they leak methane, which contaminates water, adds to global warming and occasionally explode”. Four people have been killed in the past dozen years.
Frack Free Northwich invites residents to Bowling Green meeting. The Northwich Guardian reports that the anti-frackinhg group is meeting at The Bowling Green pub in London Road, Northwich on Wednesday 22 June at 7.30pm.
19 June 2016
YP Letters: Will MP join battle against fracking? Dr Simon Sweeney, from York University, writing to The Yorkshire Post, says Kevin Hollinrake’s assurance from government on a single regulator, minimum distances from homes, regional plans for fracking and guidelines on well density have all been refused. “Perhaps Mr Hollinrake will now join the campaign against fracking”, he suggests.
How Does Fracking Contribute to Climate Change? Pollution Solutions says the latest reports sggest fracking be responsible not only for localised air, soil and water pollution but also it could exacerbate climate change on a global scale.
Opponents of InfraStrata’s Woodburn oil well in Co Antrim celebrate company’s decision to abandon. DrillODrop report
17 June 2016
Breaking: Horse Hill anti-fracking protesters acquitted. DrillOrDrop report
West Sussex future oil and gas policy fails on climate change, say campaigners. DrillOrDrop report
16 June 2016
Law firm advised slow-walking protests are legal, anti-fracking campaigner tells trial. DrillOrDrop report
INEOS responds to Guardian article on fracking waste treatment (15/6/2016). INEOS Upstream – Statement re waste disposal
Brexit voters almost twice as likely to disbelieve in manmade climate change. The Guardian reports a new poll suggests that British people backing a leave vote in the EU referendum are almost twice as likely to believe that climate change does not have a human cause (18% against 10% of remain voters). They are also more likely to oppose onshore windfarms (36% versus 21%) and support fracking (40% versus 35%). The findings come in a ComRes poll of 1,618 people split evenly between those intending to vote out and in.
Staffordshire Moorlands has no sites presently put forward for fracking. The Leek Post and Times reports comments from a meeting of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. The communities overview and scrutiny panel heard from Mike Grundy, Staffordshire County Council’s planning policy and development control manager who said: “There are no fracking sites in Staffordshire but there is permission to carry out natural gas extraction at The Three Nooks Farm site near Biddulph by conventional means.
15 June 2016
No national limits on density of fracking sites or minimum distance between wells and homes, says Minister DrillOrDrop report
Slow walking protest tolerated by police at Horse Hill, commander tells trial of nine anti-fracking campaigners. DrillOrDrop report
UK fracking policy founded on scientific fraud, misrepresentation and prevarication. Emeritus professor Nick Cowern, writing in The Ecologist, describes how documents relied on by the government made assumptions favourable to the fracking industry on greenhouse gas emissions or used out of date data.
UK fracking firm plans to dump wastewater in the sea. The Guardian reports on an email from Tom Pickering, director of INEOS Shale to a resident in Ryedale, North Yorkshire, in which he said water produced during fracking could be discharged in the sea after being treated. It has not previously said where treated water would be released.
INEOS launches attack on Labour over calls for a fracking ban. Herald Scotland reports INEOS has described arguments against fracking as “untrue and disingenuous” and challenged Labour MSPs to supply evidence that backs up demands for a ban. In a letter to Claudia Beamish, the Labour MSP who won backing in parliament for a ban this month, Gary Haywood, chief executive of INEOS, called for a face-face meeting with the party to “properly understand” concerns and to “make the case for a fair hearing for shale gas development in Scotland”.
Farmer speaks out against pollution after local authority gives go-ahead for fracking. Farming UK News interviews Sarah Houlston, whose farm is a mile from Third Energy’s KM8 well at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire – recently awarded planning permission for fracking. She said her cattle were reliant on water from a borehole, which she feared could be contaminated by the fracking operations. More and more farmers would now be approached by energy companies looking to carry out seismic surveys is search of other gas deposits, she said. She urged them to think very carefully before allowing them onto their land.
14 June 2016
Trial court examines policing of anti-fracking protests at Horse Hill. DrillOrDrop report of Day 2 of a trial of one woman and eight men who deny obstruction at the site near Gatwick.
IGas in talks with investors. In a company update, IGas announces it is “in discussions with a number of potential investors and continues to evaluate options for cash and earnings accretive transactions including farm-outs and other asset portfolio management opportunities. These discussions are intended to achieve a capital structure that is sustainable in the current oil price environment, as well as enabling the Company to capitalise on value accretive opportunities such as water injection, oil behind pipe, gas monetisation and infill drilling with the potential to increase production by c. 700 boepd, net of decline, by January 2018. It also says it is seeking to strengthen its balance sheet, extending the maturity of its debt, deferring interest payments and waiving financial covenants. Proactive Investors report
Glasgow University slated for “silencing” fracking critic. The Ferret investigative journalism website reports that David Smythe, an emeritus professor of geophysics and a leading critic of fracking, has had his university email address cancelled and access to scientific journals cut off. The action was taken without notice by university authorities in January, a few days after Smythe posted online a discussion paper critical of fracking safety and regulation in the UK. He has tried to persuade the university to reinstate his access but without success. He is currently taking legal advice about whether it breaches the university’s retirement agreement
Pressure mounts over ‘suppression’ of UK fracking impacts report. The Guardian reports growing pressure on the government to release a report by the Committee on Climate Change into the impacts of shale gas fracking. The CCC submitted the report to the Department of Energy and Climate Change in March. It can be published only when the Secretary of State at the department has responded. See DrillOrDrop report from 2 June 2016.
Fear of fracking is based on prejudice and ignorance. Herald Scotland carries a column by Stuart Haszeldine, professor of carbon capture and storage at University of Edinburgh. He says the recent vote in the Scottish Parliament for a ban on fracking is “based on only partial facts and in some cases prejudice and ignorance”. He adds: “he real issue is not the fracking, it is the increased, or even continued, emission of fossil carbon to the atmosphere. This is certain to add to the global change effects we are now seeing expressed. So my own stance is that all fossil hydrocarbon production: coal, North Sea oil, gas or fracked hydrocarbons, has to be balanced by an equal quantity of carbon storage back into the ground.”
Solo Oil focused on Tanzania as higher costs lead to wider loss. Alliance News reports that the company with investments at Horse Hill says its loss was wider in 2015 after most costs rose compared with 2014. It says the Horse Hill oil exploration has added “significant additional value to the company” but investments in Tanzania offer the best chance of returning value to the business.
Directors Talk has a Q&A with Stephen Sanderson, Executive Chairman of UK Oil & Gas Investments PLC over the acquisition of Kimmeridge Limestone PEDL234 Licence.
13 June 2016
Case dropped against Horse Hill fracking protester but trial gets underway of 9 more. DrillOrDrop report
Farm-out of interest in PEDL182. Egdon Resources announces it has farmed-out an interest in PEDL182 in Lincolnshire to Union Jack Oil PLC. The PEDL is on the western edge of the Humber basin and contains the Broughton North Prospect. Under the terms of the agreement, Union Jack will pay Egdon 12.49% of the cost of any planned Broughton North Well and associated agreed associated back costs of £64,000.
Woodburn Forest: Leading environmentalist arrested at oil drill site. BBC News reports that James Orr, director of Friends of the Earth, was one of seven people arrested on Sunday evening at Woodburn Forest near Carrickfergus in County Antrim. He was protesting against InfraStrata’s exploratory oil drilling. The BBC reports he said he and others were “asserting a public right of way” leading to the drill site when they were arrested at about 5pm.
What’s happening this week? DrillOrDrop listing of events about fracking, onshore oil and gas and campaigns.
YP Letters: Vote to leave EU could strengthen the case for fracking. Professor Paul William John Glover, chair of Petrophysics at University of Leeds, writing in The Yorkshire Post, says if the UK leaves the EU it will make it almost impossible for the government not to fast-track shale gas in order to bolster the economy. “A vote to leave the EU is a clear vote for shale gas”, he says. He adds “the UK’s much vaunted excellent environmental regulations are to a large extent the result of sustained EU pressure”. Dr Simon Sweeney, of York University’s Management School, writing in the same paper, asks whether the Committee on Climate Change still unpublished report gas states that methane emissions from shale gas have higher greenhouse gas contributions than coal
US shale oil producers evolve in survival of the fittest. The FT reports on a modest round in shale activity in the US. It says some companies can thrive even with prices at today’s levels. Any rival producers that need higher prices to be financially viable should be worrying about being eaten alive.
US shale oil output to dip for 7th consecutive month – EIA. Reuters reports on the US Energy Information Administration report on drilling productivity. It expects total shale oil output to drop 118,000 barrels per day to 4.723m in July.
12 June 2016
Fracking Week in Politics. Catch up with what politicians across the UK have been saying about fracking with our digest of parliamentary news. DrillOrDrop report. The Blackpool Gazette reports on Cat Smith’s challenge on the impact of fracking on tourism (13/6/2016)
Oil extends losses as US rigs drilling for crude rise 2nd week. Bloomberg reports crude oil prices fell for a third consecutive day after the number of rigs drilling for oil in the US rose for a second week.
Debating fracking over a pint at pub. The Blackpool Gazette reports Cuadrilla chief executive, Francis Egan, was a surprise guest at the town’s Castle pub, renamed The Three Lions for Euro 2016. Manager, Dave Daly, tells the paper he took the chance to quiz Mr Egan about fracking. He adds: “He was extremely affable and spoke freely about the process of fracking and Cuadrilla’s commitment to the local area. It was good to hear, and if the science behind this is true, we really shouldn’t miss this opportunity to bring employment and investment in to Blackpool.”
LETTER: We must effect change to the EU from within. Trevor Pollard, writing in The Westmorland Gazette, that the UK environment has benefited from EU membership and criticises the government for promoting fracking.
11 June 2016
Labour opposes fracking in the East Riding. Driffield Today reports comments by Paul Rounding, chair of East Yorkshire Constituency Labour Party, who said fracking has “more negatives than positives. The constituency passed a motion last Saturday opposing the use of fracking.
Nadia is flying the flag for Tyrone at Miss Earth final. The Ulster Herald reports on a 21-year-old graduate of Queen’s University who hopes to promote opposition to fracking when she represents Tyrone in the Miss Earth pageant.
10 June 2016
Campaigners warn of legal challenge to Kirby Misperton fracking decision and Greenpeace steps up shale gas opposition. DrillOrDrop report. Also: Anti-fracking campaigners: Kirby Misperton approval ‘unlawful’ (ITV News), Anti-fracking campaigners turn to the courts to overturn drilling permission (The York Press), Anti-fracking groups cite gas burn-off fears at Kirby Misperton (BBC News), Letter: Fracking – We will campaign against decision (Harrogate Advertiser), Campaigners in legal threat to fracking plan (The Yorkshire Post)
Anti-fracking campaigners stage protest. The Barnsley Chronicle reports on an protest outside the Barnsley branch of Barclays Bank by anti-fracking campaigners protesting about the bank’s investment in Third Energy.
Fracking moratorium holding back oil industry, MSPs told. Herald Scotland reports comments by Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has ignored the findings of a 2014 report commissioned from a expert scientific panel which said the technology existed to allow the safe extraction of shale gas “subject to robust regulation being put in place”.
North Yorkshire planning approval is a fillip for fracking. Utility Week carries a column by Lee Gordon, head of planning and infrastructure at Weightmans LLP, who says “North Yorkshire did the right thing by approving Third Energy’s planning application for test fracking.” He adds: “Industry will be hoping the decision by North Yorkshire gives other planning authorities the courage to promptly determine fracking applications areas based on their planning merits. If this does not happen, there is always the right of appeal, and an important moment for the UK shale industry will be when the secretary of state determines the planning appeals made by Cuadrilla later this year.”
8 June 2016
World starts to turn from coal as cheap oil gains market. Bloomberg reports on BP’s annual review of energy trends. The fall in global coal consumption reached record levels as major economies moved away from the most polluting fossil fuel. Oil increased its share of consumption as low prices spurred demand across the world.
World carbon emissions stopped growing in 2015, says BP. The Guardian reports that carbon emissions stopped growing for the first time in 10 years as the world turned its back on coal and embraced energy efficiency and renewable power with increased vigour. But the paper says BP is warning that progress may not last for reasons including the contraction of China’s energy-intensive sectors.
World oil reserves stable despite drop in investment – BP. Reuters quotes the BP report that world oil reserves were unchanged in 2015 despite a sharp drop in investment and exploration after the collapse in crude prices. Production last year rose by 3.2 percent to 91.67 million barrels per day, driven by increased output from U.S. shale oil production and Iraq and Saudi Arabia increasing production to record levels, the data showed. North American shale increased technically-recoverable oil and gas resources by up to 15 per cent.
Oil industry faces two more years in doldrums. The Times reports BP’s comments that a global glut of oil could take up to 18 months to decline, holding prices down until as late as 2018. Also Economic Times
IEA cuts gas use outlook again as glut seen to end of decade. Bloomberg reports on the International Energy Agency outlook, which has slashed its predictions for gas demand for the four year in a row. It predicts global consumption will grow by 1.5% a year from 2015 to 2021. This is down from last year’s forecast of 2% growth from 2014-2020.
Exclusive – EDF eyes sale of British gas, coal plants: sources. Reuters reports that EDF is considering selling its UK gas and coal electricity generating plants and has used Barclays Bank to approach potential buyers. EDF owns coal plants at Cottam and West Burton A and the West Burton B gas plant.
YP Letters: Fracking threatens ‘food basket of England’. Writing to The Yorkshire Post, J Hellowell says food products from Yorkshire rely on pure water and air and are now at risk from the effects of fracking. She adds:: “As has been proven in every country where fracking has taken place, agriculture has suffered devastating results.”
UK shale gas viable if it matches flow rates seen in US. Building Design and Construction Magazine reports comments by John Blaymires, chief operating officer at IGas, that UK shale gas is a viable option if it is able to match the flow rates seen in the US. He adds that costs of development will be higher in the UK than the US because the supply chain is more expensive and because of what is described as “cost legislation”.
7 June 2016
Planning process fails to take account of local opinion, says shale gas communities. DrillorDrop report
MP Kevin Hollinrake says resistance to fracking likely if communities feel companies control the planning process. DrillOrDrop report
Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns promises law to put “Assembly firmly in the driving seat”. Wales Online reports that the Wales Bill will be formally introduced into the House of Commons today. Among other measures, it will give the Welsh Assembly environmental responsibility for fracking.
6 June 2016
Breaking: Northern Ireland Infrastructure Minister announces plans to scrap permitted development rights for oil and gas exploration and to require full planning applications. Motion expressing concern over InfraStrata’s plans at Woodburn Forest approved by assembly. Breaking news and DrillOrDrop live updates from a debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
What’s happening this week? DrillorDrop weekly update of events about fracking and the onshore oil and gas industry.
Fracking plans, bans and bangs. Catch up on the top fracking stories with DrillOrDrop’s weekly update for Byline.com
North Sea companies diversification plans shift away from onshore shale gas. A survey by the Bank of Scotland finds 31% of the UK’s oil and gas firms are prioritising onshore shale gas as a means of diversifying, compared with 47% last year. In mid sized firms, interest in renewables has increased from 46% last year to 57% this year. STV, Energy Voice
Fossil fuel groups warned not to ignore Paris accord. The Financial Times reports comments by Lord Nicholas Stern to a Bank of England climate task force. He says the gap is s disturbing between what politicians signed up to in the Paris agreement struck in December and what fossil fuel companies are assuming. Lord Stern, the author of a 2006 study on the economics of climate change, says under the Paris accord, nearly every country has agreed to spell out at regular intervals how it will tackle greenhouse gases so that net annual emissions eventually fall to zero. Unless this shift is handled carefully, fossil fuel assets could be hit by “mass scrapping and stranding”, he says.
Four tremors recorded near Oklahoma shale. The US Geological Survey recorded four tremors in and around the shale basins in Oklahoma in the past 24 hours, UPI reports. The largest, at 3.5 magnitude, was recorded about 20 miles east of the state capital, Oklahoma City. From 2009-2015, central US states have had an average of 318 quakes, against an average of 24 in the 35 years ending in 2008. The average last year was 1,010, UPI reports.
Has the shale oil rig count finally hit bottom? Oil Voice reports that the Baker Hughes rig count has fallen from 1,931 rigs drilling in September 2014 to 408, “dramatically reducing activity and jobs for drillers, service companies and suppliers alike”. Unconventional activity, it says, has been hit hard. Horizontal rigs targeting oil in the last four counts have been 248, 249, 249 and 257. Larger unconventional drillers have said an oil price of $50/barrel is enough to add rigs to the fleet.
Fracking: England ‘Out on a Limb’ as Other European Countries See Little Success. DeSmogUK asks why England is ploughing ahead with fracking when elsewhere in Europe it is winding down. The article quotes Friends of the Earth’s energy campaigner, Tony Bosworth, ““Increasingly England is out on a limb in pushing ahead with fracking while most others are being cautious”.
YP Letters: Fracking councillors will pay electoral price. Councillor Paul Andrews, Mayor of Malton, writes to The Yorkshire Post that “The conversion of the Vale of Pickering into a gas field will create few local jobs and destroy the agricultural, equestrian and tourism economies on which Ryedale depends.” Four other letters to the paper are also against fracking.
5 June 2016
Kezia Dugdale: Give me a straight answer … it’s not fracking difficult. The Daily Record includes an opinion column from Labour’s Scottish leader, Kezia Dugdale. Referring to the SNP vote to abstain on an immediate ban on fracking, she says “espite claiming to be against fracking, the SNP choked when it matters. It’s that kind of cynical action that puts people right off politics.”
SNP urged to join ‘centre-left parties’ and impose fracking ban. The Scotsman reports Labour MSP, Claudia Beamish, has written to Scottish Government economy secretary, Keith Brown, urging him to respect the parliamentary vote for a ban on fracking. “For Scottish Labour, the science is clear, the last thing our planet needs is another fossil fuel. Failing to deliver a ban on fracking would ignore the will of the Scottish Parliament and the real concerns of people all across the country. You have an opportunity now to reflect the new composition of the parliament and work with the centre-left parties to deliver an outright ban.”
YP Letters: A seven-year-old’s view on fracking decision. Seven-year-old Katie Ward, writing in The Yorkshire Post, says fracking will clog up villages and towns with trucks. Almost my whole family lives on farms and they are all against fracking. They love our countryside and they help keep it beautiful”, she writes.
Readers’ letters: Fight fracking. Jonathan Whittaker, of Frack Free Cotswolds, writing in The Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Standard, says the decision to approve fracking in North Yorkshire has implications for the area. “Once this Government and its fossil fuel allies unleash fracking, there will be no stopping this juggernaut”, he says, adding that an oil and gas industry expert predicted the Cotswold would be third in line after Lancashire and Yorkshire.
4 June 2016
Catch up with the news about fracking and onshore oil and gas with DrillOrDrop’s digest of May 2016 headlines here
Frack Free Ellesmere Port posts pictures of the first seismic survey in the area, carried out by TESLA.
Seismic surveying outside the cemetery gates in Ellesmere Port. Picture: Ellesmere Port Frack Free
SNP’s ‘fictitious’ claims over fracking ban call debunked by expert. The Herald Scotland reports experts have debunked claims by SNP politicians that imposing an immediate fracking ban would be overturned in the courts and lead to the technique being approved.
3 June 2016
Ineos says Scotland is missing out on economic renewal by failing to support fracking. Herald Scotland reports comments by INEOS that Scotland’s economic fortunes could be transformed by fracking but the nation is losing out as it fails to support the technique.
Fracking debate must be driven by facts, not political manoeuvring. The opinion column in Herald Scotland says INEOS’s warning should not be lightly dismissed.
Allowing fracking would provide financial advantage for businesses in Scotland. Ian Moir, writing in The Scotsman, says the solution for the Scottish Energy Minister is: “to provide fracking licences and pay Scottish Power to modify Longannet to operate on shale gas. The low-cost electricity would provide a financial advantage to business ventures in Scotland.”
Anti-fracking campaigner to appear in court over legal costs. Opponents of fracking in Lancashire report that Tina Rothery is to appear in court this month in Blackpool over non-payment of legal fees, amounting to £55,342.47 arising from an eviction from land earmarked by Cuadrilla for fracking.
YP Letters: Price too high to pay in race for fracking. A Roberts, of Harrogate, writing to The Yorkshire Post, rebuts arguments by Bernard Ingham in favour of fracking. “If the main beneficiaries of shale gas extraction are in the South, then the health and environmental risks should also be located there”, he writes. The paper publishes three other letters opposing fracking one in favour.
2 June 2016
100,000+ call on government to publish advice on the impact of fracking on climate change. DrillOrDrop report
Reaction to Scottish parliament ban on fracking. DrillOrDrop report on welcome from environmental campaigners but dismissal from the industry that the vote means anything.
Insurance unlikely to cover fracking damage, farmers warned. Farmers Weekly reports that farmers and landowners have been warned not to rely on insurance cover to protect them against losses that may arise from nearby fracking operations. Malton-based broker, McClarrons, has seen increased inquiries from landowners in Ryedale where Third Energy’s fracking plans were approved last week. Becky Ireland of the firm says: “Most insurers do not recognise fracking as an ‘insured peril’ under a farm combined or similar policy, as opposed to traditional standard perils such as fire, theft or flood.”
Forest of Dean pressure group angered by Yorkshire fracking decision. The Ross Gazette reports anger by members of Frack Off Our Forest at the approval of Third Energy’s application to frack at Kirby Misperton.
Guilden Sutton fracking survey result. Frack Free Dee Coalition reports on the result of a survey of public opinion about fracking in the parish of Guilden Sutton in Cheshire. 647 people (76%) said they didn’t want fracking in the parish, 76 (9%) said they thought it would be a good thing and 123 (15%) didn’t know.
YP Letters: Fracking – voters must give verdict. Councillor Mike Potter, of Ryedale District Council, writing in The Yorkshire Post, describes the decision to approve Third Energy’s application to frack as “purely political” and likely to delay development in renewables. He says: “I sincerely hope that the electorate in next May’s NYCC elections will pass judgement via the ballot box on this woeful example of local democracy.”
Councillor’s policing fears over fracking decision. The Craven Herald reports on comments by independent county and district councillor, Andy Solloway, about concerns of the impact of fracking on an already stretched police force. He says: “”Although not directly affected by fracking, there will be a big knock-on effect to areas like Craven, and the main area will be in policing.” He predicts fracking sites will become the focus of protests in the short-term and will need protecting from terrorism and sabotage in the longer term.
Campaign steps up against fracking. The Kirkintilloch Herald reports anti-fracking groups in East Dunbartonshire have been screening the US documentary Groundswell Rising in community halls.
1 June 2016
Breaking: Scottish parliament votes for a ban on fracking. DrillOrDrop report.
Scots opinion could decide fracking future. The Scotsman reports comments by Scottish environment secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, that public opinion in Scotland will play a key role in the final decision on whether to ban fracking.
A great result for communities across Scotland at risk of fracking. Scottish Greens welcome the vote in the Scottish Parliament in support of a ban on fracking.
Holyrood to vote on fracking ban in environment debate. The BBC reports that the Scottish Parliament is to debate a ban on fracking as part of a discussion on environment and land reform. Scottish Labour has tabled an amendment calling for a full ban on fracking, while the Greens have another speaking against it, the BBC says. You can follow the debate on Holyrood Live at 2.35pm today.
Total gives up fracking plans in Denmark. CPH Post Online reports an article in Nordjyske Stiftstidende newspaper that the French oil and gas company, Total, has decided to to abandon its shale gas exploration plans in Denmark following poor results from initial drilling in north Jutland and overwhelming public resistance. Last year Total gave up fracking plans in north Zealand in Denmark. Daily Times (Total returns second Danish shale gas licence)
Parish council chairman resigns over fracking. The Gazette and Herald reports on the decision by Paul Wicks, chair of Kirby Misperton Parish Council, to resign following the decision by North Yorkshire County Council to approve fracking in the village. The parish council objected to the application and in his resignation letter Mr Wicks says: “Better minds than mine can probably analyse what is wrong with a system that prevents councils from making decisions based purely on the best interests of the public by creating a bureaucratic process that only allows ‘material considerations’ to be taken into account when making decisions that affect so many. I have decided that I no longer wish to be part of such a system.” Letters round-up Northern Echo (3/6/2016)
Shale gas exploration plans near Retford validated – now council want your views. The Retford Times reports that a six-week public consultation is now underway (until 8 July 2016) on the IGas application to explore for shale gas at Tinker Lane in North Nottinghamshire. The paper says the application is likely to be decided in September.