Legal

Court date for anti-fracking campaigner facing jail

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Tina Rothery with John Ashton at the United Against Fracking rally in Manchester

A prominent anti-fracking campaigner facing a fortnight in jail has a final chance to avoid the sentence at a court hearing next month.

Tina Rothery, from the Lancashire Nanas group, has been found guilty of contempt of court for refusing to provide officials with information about her finances in a legal dispute with the shale gas company, Cuadrilla.

She has been told she will go to Styal Prison in Cheshire for 14 days unless she provides the information at a hearing in Preston on 9 December.

Two-year old dispute over Cuadrilla protest

Ms Rothery’s case dates back more than two years to August 2014 when she and a group of women campaigners occupied a field for three weeks. They were protesting at Cuadrilla’s plans to frack a site nearby at Little Plumpton.

The company and a group of landowners went to the High Court to seek a possession order for the occupied field. They also sought an injunction preventing anti-fracking groups visiting a range of places in the Fylde area of Lancashire.

Ms Rothery asked the court for an adjournment to allow campaigners to challenge the injunction. But when she offered no evidence at the next hearing she was ordered to pay £51,594.53, part of Cuadrilla’s costs.

She has refused to pay and interest at 8% has been added to the sum.

“This is about deterring activists”

In June this year, she also refused to provide information to the court about her finances. In a statement to officials, she said:

“I feel in this case that our law courts are not being used to seek justice but instead being applied like a weapon and a threat against peaceful protest.

“As this case has nothing to do whatsoever with justice, I will not be complying with any request for information or payment.”

She told supporters:

“This is an abuse of our system of justice. This is about deterring activists and making examples”.

Jail threat

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Photo edited to remove personal details

During a protest in September, Ms Rothery was served with papers which said she had been found in contempt of court and would be sent to prison for 14 days.

She said of next month’s hearing:

“This is the day when I go before the judge and explain why I am not cooperating with their request to fill in forms.

“This is not even about the activism – it is now about court rules of engagement and the expectation/insistence that I comply or face prison for 14 days.

“My options are to pay, to sort a payment plan, to declare bankruptcy or to stick with my moral core that says this is not about law or justice. It’s about the ones with the power, money and expensive lawyers, using our laws against us in court. It is impossible for anyone up against the powerful to be able to afford justice.”

Cuadrilla said the latest request to appear in court has nothing to do with the company but was a matter between Ms Rothery and the courts.

Adjournment for “security reasons”

Officials postponed a similar hearing in Blackpool arranged for 19 October for “safety and security issues which may arise at the hearing”.

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55 replies »

  1. Thanks Paul – It’s difficult to translate / correlate new-well gas production per *rig* to EUR per *well* isn’t it? Would higher initial production per well (if indeed that is what is suggested here) mean just a phasing shift (more early productivity but the same overall) or does it imply higher overall productivity. If so why?

    I can see why EUR per foot could be considered roughly linear, and I get that there may be some marginal cost savings in extending reaches.

    The median EUR rate in your Marcellus document at 3.9 bcf isn’t so far away from the 3.2 from KPMG is it?

    How many wells out there are actually 10,000 feet long today? Do you know?

    Also what’s the difference for local people between one 3,000 ft well with 6.0 bcf and 3 x 1,000 ft wells with 2 bcf each. I guess there may be less land take with the former, but the surface activity gets concentrated geographically and extended in time so the trade off wouldn’t seem to help much in terms of amenity impact.

    The KPMG report was to the Scottish Government http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00509321.pdf and the reference to 3.16 eur is on page 19

    • Okay – thanks for the link to KPMG.

      I have personaly drilled wells with 6,500ft horizontal displacement in granite (at a TVD of around 13,000ft) but this was in 2005. The well depths were around 18,000ft MD from what I recall. So drilling much longer displacements in shale should be straight forward as long as the drilling fluid is selected correctly.

      I expect there are quite a few wells offshore with horizontal reach > 10,000ft but onshore / shale I don’t think many if any. But the higher predicted EURs may encourage some to be drilled.

      It seems that >30,000ft is achievable these days but you need a big rig to do that:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_reach_drilling

      BP wytch farm had some long wells out under Pool harbour (>15,000ft horizontal)

      http://www.bdf.co.uk/MainImages/Projects/Wytch%20Farm/Wytch%20Farm%20Success%20Story.pdf

      Presumably a longer well drains a larger area therfore less wells are needed and additional wells needed less often if the EUR is higher.

      The granite wells I worked on were limited by equipment – we drilled as far as we could mechanically get to (rig limits, pipe and downhole tools torque and tensile limits, and abrasion was a big issue due to granite). Some of these issues will not affect shale but shale comes with it’s own drilling problems – the drilling fluid will be a challenge. Shale is reactive to water, different shales to different degrees. So the drilling fluid needs to be carefully designed to drill long distances. And of course, long wells cost more so there will be an economic cut off too.

      • Thanks Paul – interesting again.

        Can you explain the apparent contradiction between “complete costs decrease per foot for extended reach laterals” and “long wells cost more so there will be an economic cut off too”.

        • A large portion of the drilling costs are in the top holes which are needed for each well drilled. So if you drill further in the lateral sections, often cheaper cost per foot than the surface sections, the overall cost per foot goes down. Especially if you don’t need as many wells. Same with completions, the completion will cost pretty much the same for 500 ft or 1,500 ft of lateral. So the cost per foot goes down with lateral extension. The cost of the frack job may increase though with the extended lateral as more jobs may be required before completion. But rates will be higher. The companies will have simulated models into which they can plug all the numbers and come up with the best economic model for drilling and completion for each field. Of course they first need performance data from the well tests on the exploration wells.

          My point was that extended reach wells generally cost more to drill, bigger and more powerful rig and pumps (higher day rate), higher strength drillpipe etc. The additional cost of this may outweigh the additional productivity, again the model will let them know.

          • Ah – OK if you meant “completion” costs not “complete” (as in total) costs I can see where you are coming from. Thank you

  2. Refracktion. Why would you and anti frackers give a toss whether uk shale or Caudrilla business is viable. If you guys are right then let them do their businesses and lose their exploration money to prove you right once amd for all. So just sit back and let them prove you right. Since you are so confident maybe you place a bet with hbpeeny on the odd of uk shale flow rate and its viability.

    • TW – I give a toss for several reasons. Amongst these are that I believe that this “need” for exploration is being used as a Trojan horse for production development and that I and friend and family live close to the Preston New Road.

      Sitting back isn’t an option, even if I don’t believe fracking won’t be commercially viable without massive government subsidies. This government is quite daft enough to provide those subsidies to fracking whilst trying to strangle development of renewables. We have seen this already.

      As to having a bet with Peeny – he’s already a bit exposed with his gambling on shale and then there’s the logistical problem of how I would collect my winnings from somebody who is too cowardly to tell us his real identity, so I think I’ll pass on that one. I only bet with trustworthy people. 🙂

    • They won’t be allowed to do anything. They’ll be resisted all the way, some places mildly, some places like at Barton Moss to a standstill. Do you still not get that lol

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