What didn’t happen in 2016?

fracking-lancas-signOver the past few days, DrillOrDrop has been reflecting on 12 months of the onshore oil and gas industry in the UK. On the final day of 2016, we look at what didn’t happen this year. We’ve also updated this post with suggestions from DrillOrDrop readers.

  1. No fracking

In January 2014, the then energy minister, Michael Fallon, said there could be 20-40 shale gas exploration wells drilled in the next two to three years years. During 2016, opponents of fracking celebrated five years since the last use of high volume hydraulic fracturing in the UK, at Preese Hall in Lancashire. Looking ahead to 2017, the first frack in the UK could be at Third Energy’s KM8 well, in Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire. But the company has still to reach agreement with the county council on planning conditions. And a protection camp, which intends to prevent or delay vehicles reaching the site, established before Christmas.

  1. No shale gas production

In 2013, the Institute of Directors assumed in its report Getting shale gas working that production of shale gas would start in 2016 with two new pads. There has been no fracking and so no shale gas production.

  1. No shale industry visualisation for North Yorkshire

At a summit of shale gas operators, organised by MP Kevin Hollinrake on 8 February 2016, companies with licences in Yorkshire agreed to produce a visualisation of the impact of future sites on the area. Mr Hollinrake’s office has told DrillOrDrop several times that it is expecting the visualisation soon but as the year ends the companies – Third Energy, INEOS, IGas and Cuadrilla – have still not delivered.

  1. No DrillOrDrop interview with Cuadrilla

DrillOrDrop asked Cuadrilla for an extended interview with its chief executive, Francis Egan. We offered to go anywhere, at any time, and to publish a full transcript of the interview. We also sent an outline of the issues we wanted to include in the interview. There has been no response from the company, despite several reminders. We will keep asking in 2017.

  1. No INEOS planning applications

In January 2016, INEOS told the Telegraph it intended to submit planning applications in the spring and drill ten core wells before the end of this year. In July, the FT reported that the company aimed to submit as many as 30 planning applications in the next six months to drill test wells But by September, the Telegraph said the company had downgraded its exploration plans and under a revised timetable hoped to submit five applications before the end of the year. So far, no applications have been made.

  1. No drilling at Bury Hill Wood

In March 2016, Europa Oil & Gas told investors it was preparing to drill its exploration well at Bury Hill Wood, also known as Holmwood, near Dorking in Surrey. A newsletter said drilling was scheduled for winter of 2016/17. But the company has not yet reached agreement with Surrey County Council on all the planning conditions. No work has been carried out at the site and it is now occupied by a protection camp.

  1. Tina Rothery didn’t go to prison

The prominent anti-fracking campaigner, Tina Rothery, faced a prison sentence after she was ruled in contempt of court. She had refused to provide information about her financial circumstances in a long-running legal dispute with Cuadrilla. The courts sentenced her to two weeks in Styall Prison, in Cheshire. But at a hearing before Christmas in Preston, the judge discharged the contempt of court and she avoided a prison term.

  1. No drilling at California Quarry

Planning permission expired in December at InfraStata’s onshore/offshore gas exploration site in Dorset. The county council said any future operations at the site will be subject to a new planning application.

  1. Third Energy didn’t file its annual accounts

Third Energy’s accounts for the year to 31 December 2015 were due on 30 September 2016. They have not yet been filed. On 6 December, Company’s House warned Third Energy – the company behind the well to be fracked at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire – that its accounts must be filed within two months or the company would be struck off the register.

  1. No drilling at Rathlin Energy sites in East Yorkshire

Rathlin Energy secured planning permission in June 2015 for a new site called West Newton B, north of Hull. The Environment Agency granted an environmental permit in August 2016 but the company has said it is still discharging planning conditions. The company was granted at extension of permission at it nearby site at West Newton A in November 2015. But no work got underway there in 2016 either.

Suggestions from DrillOrDrop readers

  1. No drilling at Brockham, in Surrey, despite UK Oil and Gas, Doriemus and Alba all saying they were going to drill in 2016.
  2. No success in appeals or judicial reviews to stop fracking applications for Friends of the Earth and co-appellants.

Review of 2016

Top 10 posts of 2016

Updated 2/1/2017 to include suggestions from DrillOrDrop readers

12 replies »

  1. Well there’s a positive to 2016; despite the lovely iconic creatures leaving the planet like Bowie, Nimoy, Victoria and Prince!

    This is my farewell too. It’s been very interesting and enlightening posting on this blog, but it seems the same old stuff just gets repeated. I will of course continue to read the amazing articles.

    It’s time to step out into the world and make those positive changes. Time chatting here is time better spent making a difference.

    So my friends; to mijn geliefde Hballpeeny, I shall miss your devil’s advocate and hysterical ramblings;to the Phil’s and particular to John Powney, keep posting those incredible up-to date links, awesome stuff; To Paul T, so sorry you have that big chip in your life, but best of luck for the future; to the I Gas investors Mark and Mr. M aka roguetrader – get out while you still can!

    Finally to Ruth and the A team, those mentioned in particular, and also everyone else who takes time out to post here; think about your time, it’s more precious than money – use it well and a very Happy New Year to ALL!

  2. Does all this ‘not happening’ perhaps mean that an ever increasing majority of the populace don’t support/actively oppose the govt and their hapless energy policy? If Cuadrilla don’t like the idea of an interview where the hyperPR won’t wash, perhaps you could try Third Energy Ruth (assuming they get their massively-in-the-red accounts in by 31 Jan 17 and don’t cease to exist). John Dewar has repeatedly offered to host ANYONE. Maybe they will communicate where their ‘red lines’ exist regarding the potential for negative impacts to air, water, health, environment, ecosystems, climate, community cohesion, existing industries etc. Maybe they’ll also state where those ‘red lines’ would be if/when TE are taken over by another Cayman Island (or similar tax haven) company. As the UK’s Gold Standard Regulation will allegedly mean that there will be none of those nasty impacts that have occurred elsewhere, the industry will presumably have known parameters where they would immediately stop production and deal with any damaging impacts, given that the possibility of them happening is so remote. They might also like to explain their views on climate change and meeting the requirements of the Committee on Climate Change and other binding govt targets from the Paris agreement. Or perhaps they wash their hands of such frippery as SEP (Somebody else’s problem).

    • Or Third Energy might just go ahead and frack their well in accordance with their planning permission and permits and go about their lawful business?

  3. Ruth – you missed “No success in appeals or judicial reviews to stop fracking applications for Friends of the Earth and co appellants.”

    • Very fair point Paul. I have updated the post with suggestions from readers and have included this point.

  4. In 2016 Cuadrilla misled the local residents of Becconsall by stating on their website

    ‘in accordance with the planning consent well plugging and site restoration work will be carried out after the wintering bird’s season, ending 31st March 2016 and before the deadline set by Lancashire County Council of 31st October 2016.’

    That has not happened.

    Proof of deliberate disregard for local community

  5. In the House of Lords in 2013 the onshore industry representative stated shale production costs of $8.

    What didn’t happen in the House of Lords in 2016 was Mr Egan using that figure.

    For some reason he used $6

    That’s odd.

    That would make you think that in the space of 3 years it has become cheaper to extract UK shale gas.

    That’s odd.

    No testing has taken place and the proposed ‘Gold Standards’ would clearly add to costs.

    Mr Egan referenced the fact that Norweign imports would be cheap and plentiful. One would deduce from that that shale could not compete with Norweign gas on price.

    He then referenced LNG costing $6 and that is what he was competing against.

    Sounds like a whole load of guesswork and throwing numbers around to make things sound viable.

    I am sure the Investors will have picked up on that.

  6. Many thanks for this summing up of where we are with all the current potential fracking sites. But yes, FOE call for a judicial review failed. Very sad. I await with interest the filing of accounts by Third Energy.

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