DrillOrDrop’s digest of the past month’s news about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas developments in the UK and around the world.
Top 10 stories:
- PM proposes direct payments to residents from shale wealth fund – fracking opponents say its bribery
- First state in Australia bans fracking
- Lancashire study reveals prospect of fracking causes stress, suspicion and fractured communities
- US research links fracking and migraines
- INEOS pushes for Scottish fracking and offers £200 for seismic testing access in England
- Autumn decision on go-ahead for legal challenge to KM8 fracking approval
- Rathlin granted permit for West Newton B
- Emails reveal Glasgow University’s links with fracking industry as retired academic challenges loss of journals access
- Petition calls for a new health report on fracking
- IGas cuts depth of Nottinghamshire shale gas well
Read on for more details, more stories and links
31 August 2016
Prospect of fracking Lancashire causes stress, suspicion and fractured communities – new research. DrillOrDrop reports on the research and reaction to it. i News (4/9/2016)
Tate paid ‘paltry’ £350k a year in BP sponsorship, figures reveal. The Guardian reports Tate art galleries received £350,000 a year in BP sponsorship between 2007 and 2011 and a one-off payment of £750,000 for its Cultural Olympiad film project. After years of refusing to publicly reveal sponsorship figures, Tate was ordered to publish them by an information tribunal earlier this summer, the paper reports. Opponents of BP’s sponsorship described the payments as “paltry”.
30 August 2016
100% of public comments on Egdon’s plans for oil production at Wressle, Lincs, oppose scheme. DrillOrDrop report
Victoria to permanently ban fracking and coal seam gas exploration. The Guardian reports the Australian state of Victoria is to introduce a permanent ban on all onshore unconventional exploration, including fracking and coal seam gas. The paper says this is the first Australian state to do so. A statement from the Department of Premier and Cabinet said: “It is clear that the Victorian community has spoken. They simply don’t support fracking. The government’s decision is based on the best available evidence and acknowledges that the risks involved outweigh any potential benefits to Victoria.”
Nottingham smashes climate targets four years early. Energy Live News reports Nottingham City Council has smashed its 2020 climate change targets four years early. It has achieved a 33% reduction in carbon emissions since 2005, beating its 26% goal. The council adds it is now producing almost three tonnes less CO2 per year per person than in 2005. 13% of the reduction is said to be the result of public transport, cycling and walking in the city.
29 August 2016
Public Health England: produce a new health report on fracking. Claire Stephenson has begun a petition on the website 38 Degrees to request PHE update its 2014 report on the public health impacts of shale gas extraction. At 9.15 on 30 August the petition had reached 437 out of its target 500 signatures.
Fracking sites ‘make you ill’: Living nearby can double the chance of migraines, chronic sinus problems and fatigue. MailOnline reports on the study by John Hopkins Medical School which finds people living near fracking sites almost doubles the risk of migraines, chronic sinus problems and severe fatigue. See 25 August for publication of the report. Report link.
The AFC Fylde Community Foundation hails record help. The Blackpool Gazette reports an increase of funds in the foundation from £205,000 to £450,000, thanks to funding from sponsors. New sponsors include Cuadrilla Resources, which wants to frack up to eight shale gas wells in the Fylde.
28 August 2016
Lib Dems accuse Conservative county council leader Nick Rushton of misleading the public. The Leicester Mercury reports Liberal Democrats on the county council have lodged an official complaint over statements made at the last meeting of the council by senior Conservatives during a debate about mineral and waste strategy. Lib Dems and Labour proposed motions at the meeting aimed at securing greater protection for residents opposing fracking developments. The Conservative majority voted down the suggestion. Council leader Nick Ruston and cabinet member Richard Blunt said the opposition groups could submit the proposals to an upcoming Consultation. But the Lib Dems say the consultation is not intended for stronger planning regulations.
Have your say on fracking at information session at Winnington. The Northwich Guardian reports on a meeting by staff from the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive, Oil and Gas Authority and Public Health England on 21 September from 2pm-7.30pm at the Recreation Club, Park Road, Winnington, Cheshire.
LETTER: Pursuit of gas and fracking. Felicity Tanous, writing to The Mid Sussex Times, refers to the government’s vision “to be the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than it inherited”. Ms Tanous asks “How does this fit with a pursuit of shale gas and effects of fracking?”
27 August 2016
Letters round-up. Phil and Chris Rowland take Third Energy in the Gazette and Herald to task for saying that it has been producing gas and energy safely and securely for more than 20 years. They write: “not once has Third Energy stated that this was with more conventional means and not by fracking which is a totally different process only tried once in the country in 2011 and stopped because of seismic activity”. They describe the proposal to offer direct payments to people living near fracking sites as “a desperate attempt to sell fracking to the public” and “a blatant attempt to divide and conquer” communities.
26 August 2016
£200 access offer to Notts residents for #fracking seismic surveys – but who’s working for who? DrillOrDrop report on related companies acting for INEOS and local residents
25 August 2016
IGas cuts maximum depth of proposed shale well at Tinker Lane in Notts by almost half. DrillorDrop report
Associations between Unconventional Natural Gas Development and Nasal and Sinus, Migraine Headache, and Fatigue Symptoms in Pennsylvania. A paper published by Environmental Health Perspectives by researchers at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health links unconventional natural gas development with nasal and sinus problems, migraine headache and fatigue symptoms in a sample of more than 7,785 patients. EcoWatch report
The rise and fall of the ‘Frack Master’: How a Dallas tech CEO became an expert on hydraulic fracturing to a global audience. The Dallas Morning News says the story of how tech entrepreneur Chris Faulkner transformed himself into the oilfield “frack master” illustrates how news outlets become unwitting accessories in promoting expert reputations. “It’s also a cautionary tale with warnings about what consumers can do to spot puffery while it’s happening”, the paper says.
Ineos apply to permanently close Bo’ness Road. The Falkirk Herald reports that INEOS has lodged plans with Falkirk Council to close permanently a section of Bo’ness Road in Grangemouth. The company, expecting its first shipment of shale gas from the USA shortly, wants to set up a security-controlled access for the public road. It expects to place a full planning application with the council in November.
YP Letters: No bribe can compensate for fracking. Two letters in The Yorkshire Post support an earlier article in the paper by anti-fracking campaigner, Chris Redston (see 19 August 2016). David Cragg-James says one item missing from the article was the damage he says fracking would do to the planet through climate change.
Big oil companies binge on debt. The Wall Street Journal reports that some of the world’s largest energy companies are saddled with the highest debt levels ever as they struggle with low crude prices. The paper says Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC and Chevron Corp hold a combined net debt of $184 billion—more than double their debt levels in 2014, when oil prices began to fall steeply. 10 years ago, the four companies appeared before Congress to explain windfall profits, the paper adds.
Fracking and the burning question of regulation. David Cragg-James, writing to The Guardian, rebuts Averil MacDonald’s letter that fracking can be safe if properly regulated. He says: “The professor does not share with us what it is, other than the industry’s assertion, that makes our UK system of regulation, not yet tested for shale, so watertight.” In a separate letter to the paper, Terry Cannon, a research fellow in climate change at University of Sussex, says industrial managers should run their activities in a way that means that they do not need to be regulated but they don’t. “We therefore have every right to be suspicious of them” when there is evidence of the private sector trying to influence the level of regulation.
Scotland’s oil revenues now account for less than 10 hours of government spending. Energy Voice reports new figures show Scotland’s share of North Sea tax would have amounted to just £60millioin in 2015-2016. This compares with just under £8bn projected in the independence white paper.
Frodsham and Helsby survey to assess community’s view on fracking issue. The Chester Chronicle reports Frack Free Frodsham and Helsby is organising a survey to be sent out next month to find the community’s feelings about fracking.
May’s Government Goes all out to Sell Fracking, but is the Public Buying it? DeSmog reviews government efforts to promote shale gas and the reaction from Frack Free Lancashire and Greenpeace.
24 August 2016
China is also involved in fracking the UK. Greenpeace Energy Desk reports the China National Offshore Oil Corporation controls 13% of shale explorer IGas through its subsidiary Nexen. See more Chinese connections at DrillorDrop post 25/2/2014)
“Attack on democracy”: Fracking academic prepares legal action against Glasgow University. CommonSpace reports on fundraising by emeritus professor, David Smythe, to take legal action against Glasgow University after it cut his access to journals and a university email account.
23 August 2016
YP Letters: The energy and economic case for fracking in Ryedale. Lorraine Allanson, a pro-fracking campaigner, writing to The Yorkshire Post makes her case for why the UK needs to exploit gas. She says: “We presently send £4.5bn every year – the equivalent of £500,000 every hour – overseas in payment for imported gas. In 2004 we were self-sufficient for gas. The UK has an excellent gas infrastructure to provide heating to the vast majority of homes. Think of the expense to householders converting their homes to electricity and the higher consumer charges for that power.”
Fracking payouts ‘a bribe’, say campaigners. The Frome Times reports on reaction to government proposals to make direct payments to people living near fracking sites. Dr Mary Phillips, director of graduate studies at the University of Bristol and member of Frome Anti-Fracking, said: “That the government has resorted to making what appears like a bribe is indicative that it recognises that fracking does have very unpleasant impacts on those who live in the areas affected and that it is extremely unpopular across the population as a whole”.
Project Westbury FOI request confirms Westbury is a target for fracking. White Horse News reports on an FOI request by local campaigners which reveals that a licence application proposes to explore for hydrocarbons in or near Westbury.
22 August 2016
Directors, fracking and decarbonising energy. DrillOrDrop report on research from the Institute of Directors.
What’s happening this week? DrillOrDrop’s round up of events this week about fracking and onshore oil and gas.
Egdon shares flat after increasing stake in North Yorkshire project. CityAm reports that Egdon Resources has bought a further 20% stake in the Kirkleatham as field near Redcar from DESS Energy, taking its interest to 60%. The site says Kirkleatham is a conventional gas project (as opposed to a shale gas project) that has planning permission already established for two wells. Shares opened slightly higher on the news but fell back to 13.12p, down 0.94%. Daily Telegraph
ClientEarth triggers review of companies’ climate disclosures. The environmental law organisation, ClientEarth has alerted the UK financial regulator to reporting breaches by oil and gas companies, SOCO Internal PLC and Cairn Energy PLC. The organisation says they failed to disclose adequately climate change risks to their businesses.
Fracking in Wiltshire one step nearer after licences sent out. The Wiltshire Times reports a Freedom of Information request has confirmed that oil and gas exploration licences have been sent out to companies in the south west. These include licences to South Western Energy which holds licences in the area. Keep Wiltshire Frack Free tells the paper “It’s just another step towards fracking in the county”.
Fracking will destroy Britain as we know it. Richard Ellis, writing to the Daily Mail, says fracking won’t produce the results claimed by the industry. “If the whole country were fracked, it still wouldn’t produce enough oil or gas to low prices significantly. There will be no economic bonanza, just environmental destruction.
21 August 2016
Radon from fracking will not be a threat. In a letter to The Guardian, Emeritus Professor Averil MacDonald, chair of the industry body, UK Onshore Oil and Gas, writes that there is no indication of elevated radon concentrations in Pickering, a radon-affected area near the Third Energy KM8 well, which the company wants to frack. She adds: “Study after study undertaken in the UK by renowned universities, professional associations and regulators state that risks to the public’s health are low as long as the shale gas industry is properly regulated. As a population we are fortunate to have a world-class system of regulation in this country”. Northern Echo, Leeds Times and The Gazette and Herald (24/8/2016)
Letters: Energy innovation. Richard Shaw, writing to The Telegraph, says success in storing surplus energy from renewables in the UK would change the future of energy supply. He says: “Never mind fracking and Hinkley Point: we need to support scientific research, and the native British genius that gave the world the jet engine, the hovercraft and the internet.”
19 August 2016
Sort Britain’s energy policy out NOW: Government urged to secure future power needs. The Daily Express reports on an Institute of Directors’ report which, in the press release, argues that almost 70% of IOD members thought Labour, Tory and coalition administrations since 2002 had failed to deliver reasonably-priced energy supplies and nearly 2/3 thought politicians had failed to deliver energy security.
The headline you won’t see: ‘Business leaders love renewables’. James Murray, of Business Green, reports on how the IOD portrayed the results of its survey of members on energy sources, policy and future direction.
Chris Redston: Fracking cash pledge evaporates in a puff of gas. The Yorkshire Post carries a comment from Chris Redston, a campaigner for Frack Free Ryedale, on government suggestions that people living near fracking sites could be paid money from shale gas tax receipts. He says “no payments could be made to anyone until fracking itself becomes profitable. This is by no means a certainty, as the dozens of American fracking companies that went bust in 2015 will attest.” He says: “The Government’s announcement was simply the latest attempt to bolster flagging support for this unwanted and unpopular industry. If that was the intention, it has failed to win over the majority of the public.”
NI lender gets option to buy into storage venture. Infrastrata, the lead developer of a gas storage project at Islandmagee in Northern Island, has repaid a E1.9m loan to Baron Oil, writes Natural Gas Europe. The funds were used to bridge the receipt of an EU grant. An option for Baron to convert the loan balance into a 15% equity in the Islandmagee project has been extended until March 2017.
Consultant says community revenue from fracking could boost homes efficiency and renewable energy. The Blackpool Gazette reports on the survey and report for Remsol, which proposes spending shale gas revenues on renewables and energy efficiency. See DrillOrDrop report of 12 August 2016
Letters: Towns like these show us why Scotland should say no to fracking. William McLaughlin, writing to The National, describes the town of Williston, North Dakota, where he says the fracking dream exploded spectacularly. “We ignore the experience of towns like Williston at our peril. They have ended up with environmental damage and little to show for it.”
Lancashire locks the gate. Tina Rothery, of Residents Action of Fylde Fracking, writes: “the people of Lancashire are readying themselves for the imminent decision [by the Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid] about fracking Lancashire”. She says: “If the decision comes and it has no respect for democracy or plain logic… then we will act (non-violently) but in a multitude of ways to prevent progress”.
Herefordshire and Gloucestershire anti-fracking campaigners join forces. The Ross Gazette previews a demonstration by local anti-fracking campaigners at Symonds Yat rock, against government licences issued to South Western Energy to explore for oil and gas in the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean.
Letters. Fracking: Opposition grown with awareness. Roseacre Awareness Group, writing in The Blackpool Gazette, says opposition to imposing fracking in the UK has grown as awareness in the process has increase. Following the inquiry into Cuadrilla’s plans to frack in Lancashire, the group said the government “should respect the policies and the process which resulted in the Lancashire decision [to refuse the applications] and reject Cuadrilla’s appeal to frack at Roseacre.”
Ineos boss urges government to speed up fracking decision. The Falkirk Herald reports on comments by Gary Haywood, chief executive of INEOS Shale, who questions why the research programme by the Scottish Government needs to “take so long”. He says: “We do not believe this is in the interests of the Scottish people and economy.”
Letters: Fracking’s toxic waste. Writing to The Yorkshire Post, Mike Davies asks “DOES Leeds want to accept hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic liquid waste from fracking sites in North Yorkshire and Lancashire?” He says “The current intention, for these and other fracking sites, is for a stream of tankers to carry this flowback waste to Knostrop in Leeds. There it will be “treated” and passed on to the Yorkshire Water sewage works, ending up in the River Aire. What assurances can Yorkshire Water offer about the short and long term consequences? How much flowback waste will they accept? What will it contain? What will be the effect on our drinking water?”
18 August 2016
Wanted: Your views on the Shale Gas Wealth Fund. The NFU reports on government proposals to use 10% of shale gas tax revenues in a sovereign wealth fund. The organisation calls for a standardised process for negotiating underground access, with an agreed minimum level of compensation, as for other major infrastructure schemes.
Residents’ anger at Minister’s shale sales pitch. Frack Free Lancashire says it remains unconvinced by Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe’s vision that shale gas is “an exciting opportunity”. The group says: “The Conservative government still appears to be on the slow foot of technology with their continued dependence on fossil fuels, when worldwide, countries are striding forward with renewable technologies such as solar, hydro and wind power. Our climate commitments to mitigate global warming are non-negotiable. The pursuit of dirty fossil fuels is in no way a match for a low-carbon future.”
17 August 2016
Emails reveal Glasgow University academics’ close links to fracking industry. The investigative website, Spinwatch, reports on emails released on freedom of information requests which reveal communication between staff at Glasgow University and Cuadrilla about rebutting an article by emeritus professor, David Smythe. The article also reports that academics Professor Paul Younger and Rob Westaway communicated with Cuadrilla about rebutting a paper from Manchester University which suggested UK shale gas might be “sour” and therefore cause air pollution.
Environment Agency wants your views on fracking firm’s Tinker Lane plans. The Retford Times reports on the opening of a consultation on an environmental permit for exploratory shale gas drilling at Tinker Lane, near Retford. The consultation continues until 28 September 2016.
Environment Agency publishes guidance to oil and gas companies. The EA has published a 60+-page document on permits and best available techniques required for onshore oil and gas operations. Download: EA Oil and Gas sector guidance
Police refuse to rule out using undercover officers at anti-fracking protests. The police monitoring group, Netpol, reports on a response from Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Hamlin, of the National Police Chiefs Council, to its questions about protest policing. Netpol says the NPCC insists using cover undercover tactics is a matter for local police commanders. The NPCC continues to assert that dedicated counter-terrorism officers are necessary to “better understand events” and to “help prevent lawful protest being undermined”, Netpol says.
Letter: Biggest opportunity ahead of us is ability to become energy independent by fracking. David Walker, writing in the Leek Post and Times, says “Well organised Fracking would make us safer and more independent – something the Referendum was about – would save British armed forces lives and could be the much needed kick-start a region like ours requires.”
16 August 2016
Minister – I believe shale gas is an exciting opportunity. Newly appointed energy minister, Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, tells the Lancashire Evening Post: “Being an ex-businesswoman, I strongly believe shale is an exciting opportunity not to be missed. It could have an extraordinarily positive effect on our economy similar to the US experience, creating a large number of jobs for local people, as well as benefits to a wide range of other businesses throughout the community.”
Anti-fracking academic in row over losing online access. The National reports on planned legal action by Emeritus Professor, David Smythe, against Glasgow University which has terminated his library and email access days after he published a research paper that was critical of fracking.
YP Letters: Farmers must lead the fight against fracking. Mrs J Hellowell, of Kirbymoorside, writes to The Yorkshire Post that fracking for shale gas poses the greatest threat ever known to agriculture in England. She says “I urge all farmers to learn more about it, because being a lifelong farmer myself, I feel deeply concerned about the enormous risks involved.”
Environmental campaigners clash with politicians over fracking. The Romsey Advertiser reports on a fresh row over plans for fracking in Test Valley, after claims communities are being bribed. The local MP, Caroline Nokes, says “I am pleased that the prime minister is discussing possible ways forward to ensure homeowners are not financially disadvantaged.” But environmental campaigner, Andy Lester, says any payment is akin to blackmail. “It’s a way of silencing the critics. Money does talk, there will be many people when money is offered who would say ‘that’s great, that’s money I wouldn’t otherwise have.’”
Leaked documents reveal plan to rein in England’s nature watchdog. Greenpeace Energy Desk reports leaked documents reveal that Natural England is planning to rein in its regulatory powers and seek more funding from the corporations it assesses.
15 August 2016
PM’s fracking payment plan fails to win majority support for shale gas – new poll for Friends of the Earth. DrillOrDrop report. Minster FM, City Am; Business Green; Blue and Green Tomorrow
Government documents confirm Salford could be fracked by 2021. The Salford Star picks up on an earlier post by DrillOrDrop that IGas and its new partner INEOS is intending to submit a planning application to drill a fracking well and to frack by 2021 as part of a licence which includes Barton Moss and Salford.
Bradford Green Party Call For Fracking Rethink. Pulse2 says the city’s Green Party has called for a rethink on Government’s energy policy after the announcement it might give money to individuals living near fracking sites. Andrew Cooper, Kirklees councillor and Green Party Energy spokesperson, commented: “Instead of bribing people to accept climate-destroying fracking, the government should be investing in renewables and energy efficiency”.
Leading county councillor cautiously welcomes fracking in Lincolnshire. Cllr Colin Davie, county council portfolio holder for environment, tells The Lincolnite “Fracking does have a part to play but I do not think it’s the panacea that some people hold it up to be. I certainly do not think it will make the contribution that it has made in America.” There are no fracking planning applications in Lincolnshire.
14 August 2016
What’s happening this week. DrillOrDrop review of fracking and onshore oil and gas events.
Advice on fending off fracking. The Sunday Times explains the process fracking companies have to go through before they can extract shale gas.
Three small earthquakes recorded in Oklahoma in one weekend. The Guardian reports three small earthquakes have been recorded in northern Oklahoma during the weekend. The US Geological Survey reports the strongest was a magnitude-3.1 quake recorded at 7.22am Sunday six miles east of Medford.
13 August 2016
Is TV mindbender Derren Brown brainwashing teenagers into opposing fracking? Thorpe Park ‘thought ride’ bombards thrillseekers with images of catastrophe. The Mail on Sunday suggests illusionist Derren Brown may be making teenagers believe fracking could have apocalyptic consequences. The paper says Brown’s experiment is being conducted at a new £13m ghost train ride at Thorpe Park. It says throughout the 15-minute there are references designed to convince visitors to associate shale gas extraction with terrible consequences.
‘Eco’ warriors resist fracking ‘bribe’. The Fermanagh Herald reports that Tom White, chair of Belcoo Frack Free, described as “unworkable” the Prime Minister’s idea to pay money to people living near fracking sites. Tanya Jones, of the Fermanagh South Tyrone Green Party, describes the payment as a “bribe”.
Unsettling outlook for gas: Chatham House. Natural Gas Europe reports on a study by John and Beth Michell Paris Mismatches: The impact of the COP21 Climate Change negotiations on the oil and gas industries, which suggests stringent measures are likely to be imposed on fossil fuels in future to meet the target to limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees.
12 August 2016
Autumn decision on legal challenge to planning permission for fracking at Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton site. DrillOrDrop report
Police monitoring group advises anti-fracking campaigners who are filmed by security guards outside oil and gas sites they can apply to obtain copies of footage held on them. DrillOrDrop report
Spend shale revenues on renewables and energy efficiency, says fracking service company. DrillOrDrop report
Fracking fight win for Northern Arnhem Land. Lock the Gate Alliance reports Paltar Petroleum has withdrawn its oil and gas fracking applications from Northern Territory waters.
Launch of consultation by Cheshire West and Chester Council on its local plan, part two (land allocation and detailed policies). The consultation runs until 5pm on 23 September. Details here
Mark Ruskell: No more sitting on fence over fracking – it’s time for an outright ban. An opinion piece in The National, argues “this is the time to be investing in clean, renewable energy sources, not digging for more fossil fuels. We already have much more gas and oil than we can afford to burn if we are to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of global climate change and fracking comes with the added risk of leakage of climate-wrecking methane”.
We risk being left behind in the industries of the future. Gary Smith, GMB Scotland secretary, tells Herald Scotland, “The opportunities presented by decommissioning and fracking are there for the taking and Scotland can’t afford to pass them up.”
11 August 2016
House prices in UK’s only fracking area drop 4%. Mortgage Insider reports on a study by University of Bristol (dated March 2016). This tracked the impact of drilling at Preese Hall in Lancashire. Earthquakes caused by fracking the well in 2011 led to fall in house prices of 2.7%-4.1% in a 30km radius of the area. It estimated an average house price fall of 1%-1.5% for the period 2008-2014 in areas where shale gas development was mentioned in license applications. Modelling suggested fracking could reduce house price values by between £706m and £1.1bn across all areas where exploration licences have been granted.
UKOG completes acquisition of Weald PEDL234. UKOG announces it completed the acquisition of the 300 sq km of PEDL234 from Magellan Petroleum Corporation and Celtique Energie. Magellan says it has received £446,000 and 50.9 million shares in UKOG worth about $1m. PEDL2324 includes the Broadford Bridge oil site near Billingshurst where permission has been granted for an exploratory well.
Lib Dems’ petition calls for no fracking on the Isle of Wight. Isle of Wight County Press reports on an anti-fracking petition, launched by the island’s Lib Dems, calling for the council to reject fracking or oil drilling. The party says it will campaign on a “no to fracking, yes to better alternatives” message in next year’s local elections. Link to petition
Rossendale Scribbler: Our children may pay higher price than £10k offer for fracking. A columnist in The Rossendale Free Press talks of concerns that “the government seems to have moved from sceptical analysis of whether fracking is safe to working out how to get it to happen. The writer adds that payments to communities could tempt people to accept fracking at the expense of “understanding the true price we will be paying”.
YP Letters: Theresa May’s attempt to bribe communities over fracking will fail. Four more letters to The Yorkshire Post opposing proposals to make payments to communities in fracking areas.
Letter: Individual payments are a desperate ploy to sell fracking to the public. Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP, writing in The Bath Chronicle, says government plans “could prove deeply divisive, setting household against household and causing tension in communities. This misguided policy demonstrates again that the government has no strategic energy policy and is a worrying indication of the failure of commitment to tackle climate change, demonstrated by Theresa May in her abolition of the Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC).
Be prepared for fracking. Nigel Hennerley, of the Green Party, writes to the Northwich Guardian about imminent seismic testing for INEOS in the area. “I would warn readers as an insurance assessor that fracking related damage to your property is unlikely to be covered by your insurance policy. My advice would be to be aware of any seismic testing to take place in your location and take a photograph of your property inside and out, prior to test. If damage should occur, you will be better placed to pursue a claim against the company responsible.”
Herefordshire campaigner to take anti-fracking message to the heart of Government, on a Tolkien-style quest. The Ross Gazette reports on Rick Guest’s journey, dressed as Gandalf the wizard, from Hereford to Symonds Yat with a message “Don’t frack the Shires”. Also Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review
Recruiters encouraged by government’s shale payouts. Recruiter.co.uk reports that government moves aimed at reducing local opposition to shale gas projects starting could come as a welcome boost for oil and gas recruiters affected by falling prices. James Gorfin, chief executive at global recruitment firm G2v Group tells Recruiter the government’s move would give a “bounce” to those recruiters operating in the energy sector. “We believe these proposals would have a catalytic effect on the UK’s shale gas industry,” Gorfin said. “Fracking for shale gas is in its embryonic stage and therefore finding professionals with the relevant skills is not an easy task.”
Science board pushes EPA to change major fracking report. The Hill reports that The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) scientific review board is criticizing a major agency study into fracking, saying officials need to offer more evidence backing up their claims. In a letter today, EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) told the Administrator Gina McCarthy the agency “should provide quantitative analysis that supports its conclusion that hydraulic fracturing has not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.” The SAB concluded the fracking study was “comprehensive but lacking in several critical areas.” It said the EPA needs to clarify its findings and present more evidence backing them up because “the statement has been interpreted by readers and members of the public in many different ways.” Ecowatch
10 August 2016
Fracking ‘bribes’ raise problematic questions. Three letters to The Guardian raise questions about government plans to pay residents whose communities host shale gas sites.
More reaction and reports on the government’s proposed shale wealth fund: The Yorkshire Post (Fracking payouts could bypass councils and go straight to families); Yorkshire Post letters (Fracking cash offer is an attempt to divide and conquer); Lancashire Evening Post (‘Let’s all benefit from Lancashire’s shale gas industry’ – 11/08/2016)
Centrica in consultation with UK onshore staff over job losses. Energy Voice reports Centrica has begun a consultation with staff over onshore jobs in its UK operations. The company is understood to be in talks with staff at both its Aberdeen offices as well as Morecambe Bay. The move is not expected to affect offshore staff. In April Centrica announced it expected to cut about 3,000 jobs this year.
Chemical giant INEOS blasts SNP’s “absurd” fracking stance. Herald Scotland reports INEOS has apparently lost patience with the Scottish government policy of an evidence-led decision on fracking. Gary Hayward, CEO of INEOS Shale, said “”The fact that Scotland is choosing not to end the moratorium and avoid the financial and carbon cost of transporting shale gas by utilising its own underground wealth is absurd. Equally absurd is that Scotland might not even make a decision until summer 2017, or after.” The company had previously said it supported the government’s research and consultation programme.
For oil companies $110billion debt wall looms over next 5 years. Energy Voice reports that more than $21 billion of debt from oil services and drilling companies is estimated to mature in 2018. It says this is almost three times the total burden in 2017, according to a report by Moody’s Investors Service.
UK coal industry presses for rethink on carbon capture. The FT reports that coal producers ae pressing the UK government to rethink the decision to scrap a £1 bn scheme to develop carbon and capture and storage technology. The paper says the World Coal Association, which represents mining companies such as Glencore and Anglo American, has written to Greg Clark, the new business secretary, appealing for support for carbon capture. The former chancellor, George Osborne, cancelled the scheme last November.
‘Earth overshoot day’ should act as a warning to critics of green campaigners. Carolyn Taylor, writing to The Scotsman, calls on the paper to do “a little judicious research” after it dismisses safety concerns about fracking and alleging there is little evidence of loss of human life and livelihoods from US shale gas. Ms Taylor says people tempted by a payouts acquaint themselves with the experiences of the many Americans who have reason to regret their decision to accept this financial bait”.
9 August 2016
What’s happening this week. DrillOrDrop’s events round-up.
Theresa May: don’t frack the UK. Greenpeace launches new petition urging Theresa May to reverse plans to roll out fracking in the UK.
The Secretary of State announces that the Oil and Gas Authority will receive new powers on 1 October. The Business Secretary Greg Clark announces the Oil and Gas Authority will be established as an independent regulator by the UK Government, with new powers that mean “it can act with greater speed and flexibility to drive investment, support jobs and further the UK’s competitive edge in the oil and gas industry.”
Bribe or no bribe, I’d rather live next to a fracking site than a building site. On the subject of the shale wealth fund, Juliet Samuel, writing in The Telegraph, asks “What I can’t understand is why exactly the locals need to be paid off so handsomely. A cheaper and more effective option would be to fly them out to the US to see for themselves: fracking protesters are making mountains out of molehills.”
Don’t be so fracking ridiculous. Writing in The Sun, pro-fracking journalist Matt Ridley says: “The campaign to stop fracking ignores the latest evidence and is based largely on myths. It is backed by the giant budgets and PR machines of big environmental pressure groups”. He says “We have a bias against the new. We let opponents of new technology dictate to us far too often.”
Arrival of US shale gas raises pressure on SNP. The Times says the first shipment of American ethane extracted by fracking will arrive in Scotland within the next seven weeks. The shipment, to the INEOS Grangemouth complex, is expected to trigger environmental protests by campaigners, who the paper says, believe imports will undermine arguments against fracking in Scotland. Also The National, Glasgow South and Eastwood Extra, Martyn McLaughlin in The Scotsman (Time to get facts on fracking out in the open); BBC News
Nobody can buy the silence of a climate spinning out of control. Writing in The Guardian, Green MP Caroline Lucas says: “The government’s reckless pursuit of fracking has reached new lows with the announcement that ministers will attempt to buy off widespread community opposition to the controversial new fossil fuel source through the introduction of a £1bn Shale Wealth Fund”. She says: “At a time when we need to be making the transition to a jobs-rich zero-carbon future, this would be a gross violation of the commitments made in Paris last year. Already 2016 is set to be the hottest year on record and without a global step-change we will blow the 1.5C goal within years. Nobody can buy the silence of a climate that is spinning into chaos and turmoil.”
Campaigners at Chester anti-fracking camp prepare to be evicted. The Chester Chronicle reports that eviction proceedings are being activated against a small camp at Bridge Trafford on the A56 Warrington Road. The camp was established after campaigners discovered that Star Energy, owned by IGas, had bought a field at Bridge Trafford for £141,000.
8 August 2016
Local people have first call on shale wealth fund, says government, as consultation opens. DrillOrDrop report on consultation details. Other coverage: The Guardian (Householders will have to wait at least five years for fracking payments); The Times (Households face a long wait for fracking payday); Business Green (Fracking cash could be used to fund climate resilient flood defences, as well as ‘bribes’ to local residents); Financial Times (May’s fracking payments plan met with scepticism); Lancashire Evening Post (Shale gas ‘bribes’ won’t stop us, say opponents) The Canary (£13,000 fracking contracts definitely ‘not about preventing future law suits’, claims Theresa May); Yorkshire Post letters (Fracking bribe reveals our bankrupt energy politics); Gazette and Herald (Campaigners call on local communities to oppose fracking ‘bribe’ plan – 10/8/2016); Activist Connor Dwyer in Huffington Post (Rewards From Renewables, Foul Play From Fracking)
Why the UK government’s fracking payout claim is just not true. Damian Kahya, of Greenpeace Energy Desk, reports on selective distribution of news of government proposals to make direct payments from the shale wealth fund to individuals. He says select media outlets received an email after 6pm on Friday, embargoed until Sunday on a “no-approach” basis – preventing them from checking it with anyone else. The piece also looks at the assumptions behind the reported figures of £10,000-£15,000 individual payments.
Shale gas consultation won’t affect industry plans. John Blaymires, chief operating officer of IGas, tells Proactive Investors, he welcomes the launch of the consultation on the shale wealth fund. He says: “It is encouraging that the Prime Minister is looking at broader energy policy and specifically here to see how she can try to ensure that some of these benefits find their way to the local communities in which these activities take place”. This won’t affect IGas plans, he said. “We are continuing to pursue our planning applications and the key for us is to move forward to demonstrate the viability of shale gas development here in the UK”.
Fracking ridiculous. UK will start importing shale gas from US while it sits on enough gas to last 500 years. The Sun reports anger from the head of Cuadrilla as it continues to wait on decision for UK fracking. Francis Egan criticised imports of shale gas due to arrive form the US as ridiculous. “They are taking ethane, turning it into a liquid, transporting it across the sea in a container, turning it back into a gas and then pumping it into Grangemouth. “Just beneath Grangemouth are deposits of shale gas the Scottish Government is saying you can’t touch”, he said.
DUP MP Sammy Wilson attacks green ‘Luddites’ over opposition to fracking. The Belfast Telegraph reports an attack by Sammy Wilson on opponents of fracking, who he calls “green luddites” who want to take people back to travelling by horse and cart. He says green groups want to live “in cold conditions because we couldn’t burn coal, oil, gas or wood for fear of putting the world temperature up by half-a-degree in a century’s time”.
Homes in Forest of Dean unlikely to get a penny from Theresa May’s fracking fund. Gloucestershire Live reports that householders in the Forest of Dean hoping for a windfall from the shale wealth fund are unlikely to get a penny. Industry leaders say Forest residents will not qualify for any of the cash because the proposed procedure to extract gas from under the Dean woodlands is not officially classed as fracking.
FOI reveals Barnsley Council meeting with fracking firm. No Fracking Barnsley reports that a Freedom of Information request revealed that Barnsley Council met with Cuadrilla on 15 December 2016, despite the council saying in the Barnsley Chronicle that it had received no preliminary inquiries from companies about shale gas production in the area. Responses to the FOI request here and here.
Action group against potential Leith Hill oil drilling to hold exhibition and picnic. The Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser reports A Voice for Leith Hill, a group opposed to drilling near the site, is holding an art exhibition and picnic day on Saturday 13 August featuring live music, children’s art activities, animal face painting, ecology talks and cream teas.
7 August 2016
PM proposes individual payments to shale gas residents – opponents say it’s a bribe. DrillOrDrop report on proposals and reaction.
Other coverage of this issue: The Mirror (Theresa May “trying to bribe Britons to accept fracking” ) and more from The Mirror (Revealed – the households where Theresa May is ‘bribing’ residents with £20,000 for fracking); The Independent (Bribery won’t convince the British people that fracking is good for them – it’s dirty and dangerous – signed piece by Liz Hutchins of Friends of the Earth); The Sun (The benefits of fracking to the UK are well worth PM Theresa May’s £10,000 ‘bribe’ – signed piece by columnist Trevor Kavanagh); Business Green (Trying to bribe public to accept fracking won’t work, say campaigners); Telegraph view (Britain must seize the benefits of fracking); MailOnline (Fracking ‘bribes’ could be given for new estates too: Families may get £20k for major housing developments on their doorsteps); The Guardian (Local people to get cash payments from fracking); The Express (Are you in line for£10,000 Government payout for fracking disruption?); BBC News (Households could get fracking payments under government plans); ITV (Households hit by fracking could receive shale wealth payments); Mail On Sunday comment (Switched-on solution to a power crisis); Sun editorial (THE SUN SAYS It’s time to sell case for fracking); The Scotsman leader (Scotland needs to make mind up on fracking – 8/8/2016); Sky News (Fracking Cash: People ‘Will Turn On Each Other’)
Tony McDonough: Fracking and nuclear may be the only ways of keeping the lights on. The Liverpool Echo carries an opinion piece on what it calls the UK’s “looming energy gap”. Tony McDonough says “environmentalists may just have to swallow” fracking and nuclear.
Campaigner to dress as Gandalf to take his anti-fracking message to London. The Hereford Times reports that Rick Guest will wear a wizard’s hat and walk from Herefordshire to London to campaign against fracking in the county. South Western Energy has formally been issued a government licence to explore for gas and oil in the Wye Valley and its neighbouring Forest of Dean.
6 August 2016
Our right to challenge the dash to frack. Heather Stroud, writing to The Yorkshire Post, says the message of “no social licence” resounded from the cobbles in the York anti-fracking rally last Saturday. She says fracking has not been done anywhere in the world without causing some degree of environmental damage.
Putin’s TV station “stokes fracking fears”. The Times reports Cuadrilla has complained to Ofcom that RT had breached the broadcasting code by making false statements. Story reproduced on The Global Warming Policy Forum website (7/8/2016)
5 August 2016
Supply chain specialist. Cuadrilla advertises for a two-year contract on £40,000-50,000 a year to “oversee the execution of supply chain strategy, developing and embedding supply chain processes and procedures.
4 August 2016
What happened to democracy over the fracking issue? Chris Whitwood, deputy leader of the Yorkshire Party, writing in The Yorkshire Post, says “the decision whether to frack in Yorkshire must be made by the people of Yorkshire – openly, democratically and based on clear, scientific evidence.” He adds: “the best way of deciding how to generate power for the people is by giving power to the people.”
3 August 2016
July 2016 drilling headlines. DrillOrDrop’s monthly digest of headlines about fracking, onshore oil and gas and the campaigns around them.
IGas board changes. IGas announces Robin Pinchbeck is stepping down from the IGas board as an independent Non-executive Director after over four years. Mike McTighe will join the Board as Non-executive Deputy Chairman and will become a member of the Audit and Remuneration Committees.
Britain faces a nasty shock when the global energy cycle turns. The Telegraph reports Britain’s energy industry is dying, with dependence on imported fuels and electricity jumping from 17% to 46% since 2000. The paper says shale is a calculated gamble for Britain but on good odds. It says “We cannot hope to repeat the stunning success of the US, but we can at least avert a fiasco staring us in the face.”
INEOS takes further step to fracking in England with seismic surveys. Energy Voice reports that fracking in Northwich has moved one step closer with INEOS revealing plans to carry out seismic surveys over the next 18 months.
Green group ‘scaremongering’ over plan to burn coal seams. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMECHE) reports on a study by Friends of the Earth Scotland on underground coal gasification. IMECHE quotes Algy Cluff, who has a company that wanted to use UCG to extract gas from under the Forth and Solway Firths in Scotland. He accuses FOE of “scaremongering” and says ““This report is designed purely to intimidate communities and politicians ahead of the publication of independent reports on UCG being prepared for the Scottish government.
2 August 2016
Rathlin Energy granted environmental permit for new exploratory gas site at West Newton B in East Yorkshire. DrillOrDrop report. Hull Daily Mail
Seismic surveys to bring fracking in Cheshire one step closer. The Northwich Guardian repots INEOS Shale is to begin seismic testing and will hold public consultations throughout the process. Frack Free Northwich described seismic surveying as “highly intrusive”.
Pendle Labour says ‘no’ to fracking. Pendle Today reports members of The Labour Party in Pendle have voted overwhelmingly to oppose any proposals for fracking in the area. The vote took place at the Constituency Labour Party’s Annual General meeting where it was noted that recent opinion polls show that only 19% of the population supports fracking, while 81% support increased use of renewable energy.
Exposed: Glasgow Uni’s plot to cut off anti-fracking professor. An article in DeSmog and The Ecologist discuss emails which, it says, shows Glasgow University terminated Professor David Smythe because of his anti-fracking views. Internal emails dating back to July 2014, obtained by Smythe through a Subject Access Request filing and seen by DeSmog UK, confirm his online privileges were revoked following a long-running dispute between the university and Smythe concerning his use of the university name when discussing the impacts of shale gas extraction.
Anti-fracking group launches fundraising bid. The Yorkshire Post reports Frack Free Ryedale has launched a fundraising bid as they wait to discover if they have been successful in their request to seek a judicial review against the approved plans to extract shale gas from the Kirby Misperton site in North Yorkshire.
In Colorado, Donald Trump sides with Democrats and environmentalists on fracking. The LA Times reports Donald Trump waded into Colorado’s fracking debate this week, siding with a position popular among Democrats and environmentalists in the state, while leaving many Republicans dismayed. Trump, who held rallies on Friday in Colorado Springs and Denver, said that while he supports fracking, he believes voters should have a say in whether they want to ban it.
Anti-fracking campaigners discuss future with Green Party MEP. This is Wiltshire reports members of Keep Wiltshire Frack Free met the Green Party MPE, Molly Scott Cato at the Tolpuddle Festival. The website says they discussed how leaving the European Union might affect the likelihood of fracking in Wiltshire.
US crude drops below $40 a barrel. The FT reports that US crude hovered near $40 a barrel early today while the global benchmark Brent was at three month lows as higher output and exports from big producer countries weighed on market sentiment.
Residents join councillors at public meeting on fracking. The Sefton Champion reports that worried residents attended a meeting in Formby which explained the possibility of fracking in Sefton and West Lancashire.
SK Capital completes the sale of Calabrian to INEOS Enterprises. Business Wire reports that INEOS has bought the North American market leader in liquid sulphur dioxide, supplying the water treatment industries.
1 August 2016
Fracking and onshore oil/gas events including meetings, consultations, training, information, films in August 2016. DrillOrDrop diary
Crawberry Hill drill site permit surrendered. The Environment Agency says Rathlin Energy has surrendered its environmental permit for the drilling site at Crawberry Hill, near Beverley. BBC News and Yorkshire Post (see bottom of story)
Firm gets permit for exploratory gas drilling in East Yorkshire. The Yorkshire Post reports that exploratory drilling will begin later this year at Rathlin Energy’s West Newton B site, near Sproatley in Holderness. The Environment Agency announced it was issuing permits for the site where up to two wells could be drilled.
New ministerial portfolios confirmed at Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The Government confirms: Nick Hurd -Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry; Jesse Norman – Minister for Industry and Energy; Baroness Neville-Rolfe – Minister of State for Energy and Intellectual Property.
Rossendale council has been urged to emulate Bury’s ban on fracking on council-held land. Rossendale Free Press reports that anti-fracking campaigners from Keep East Lancashire Frack Free are calling on Rossendale Council to follow a neighbouring authority (Bury) and ban fracking on council owned or controlled land.
Alba losses narrow. Iii.co.uk reports that Alba Mineral Resources posts a pre-tax loss of £200,118 for the six months to the end of May – down from £232,594 a year ago. Alba says the positive developments in relation to the Horse Hill project over the past several months – most notably the very successful flow test results completed in the first quarter of 2016 – have provided further justification for its decision to invest in the project and to increase its interest successively from an initial 5 per cent to its current 15 per cent interest in HHDL.
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