Complaints to advertising watchdog over INEOS fracking supplement


A local newspaper supplement about shale gas in the East Midlands has attracted three formal complaints to the advertising watchdog.

One complainant listed 40 statements which he said were a breach of the advertising code.

The eight-page supplement, paid for by INEOS Shale, appeared in 10 newspapers owned by Johnston Press last week. DrillOrDrop report

Titled FRACKING What everyone should know, the pull-out said it was time to “set the record straight” about shale gas.

But according to the complainants, some statements in the supplement were misleading, exaggerated, unsubstantiated or subjective.

A spokesperson for the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) told DrillOrDrop today:

“I can confirm that we’ve received complaints about the newspaper ad (8 page insert) by INEOS. The three complaints we’ve received came in on Friday and over the weekend and the nature of the complaints appear to challenge whether various claims in the ad are misleading.

“At this stage, we can’t comment beyond confirming receipt of complaints and that we’ll assess them to establish whether there are grounds for an investigation.”

A spokesperson for INEOS said:

“We are confident about the contents of the supplement and will provide the ASA with any assistance they require should they require it.”

One complaint was by John Hobson, who opposes fracking on the Refracktion website and regularly contributes to DrillOrDrop. He has  posted online his full complaint, which runs to 12 pages and covers 40 statements.

He argued that INEOS had presented subjective, unsubstantiated or exaggerated opinion as fact.

His complaints include:

  • INEOS ignored the issue of fugitive methane emissions when arguing that gas was less damaging to the climate than coal and oil
  • INEOS said incorrectly that fracking did not cause tremors that damaged property
  • INEOS suggested incorrectly that shale gas would reduce energy costs and without this heavy industry would cease to exist

On the final point, Mr Hobson said:

“Firstly, even representatives from the industry itself agree that UK fracking will not reduce gas prices. Secondly it is absurd to claim that heavy industry will simply disappear if we don’t frack in the UK as gas is readily and plentifully available at prices below that at which UK shale could be produced.”

The ASA and fracking

The ASA has dealt with complaints from both sides of the debate about fracking.

Refracktion made a complaint to the ASA about a brochure published by the shale gas company, Cuadrilla in 2013. Of the 18 issues raised in the complaint, six were upheld, one upheld in part and 11 were not upheld Ruling.

A year later, the ASA upheld all six issues in a complaint by a Balcombe resident to a pro-shale gas advert in the Telegraph paid for by the American company, Breitling Energy Corporation Ruling.

In 2015, the ASA upheld a complaint by Lord Lipsey about an anti-fracking advert by Greenpeace. But in 2016, the ruling was reversed when the organisation appealed to the ASA’s independent assessor Ruling. A complaint against Third Energy was also not upheld Ruling.

Earlier this month, Friends of the Earth agreed not to repeat claims it made in a leaflet about the effects of fracking. This followed an informal resolution of two complaints, including one from Cuadrilla. DrillOrDrop report on the arguments in this case.

A further five complaints against anti-fracking groups have been informally resolved between May 2013 and February 2016.

Making the case for and against fracking

The two sides in the fracking debate in the East Midlands are making their case in the same Derbyshire village tomorrow (Tuesday 31 January 2017).

INEOS has an exhibition about its proposed shale exploration site in Marsh Lane, south of Sheffield. An alternative exhibition, by opponents of the plans, will be held nearby.

DrillOrDrop will be reported from both events.


INEOS exhibition, 2pm-8pm, Green Lawns Community Centre, 8 Warren Walk, Marsh Lane, Derbyshire S21 5RX. Details

Alternative exhibition by opponents: The truth about fracking, 2pm-8pm, Marsh Lane Community Centre, Main Road, Marsh Lane S21 5RH. Details



36 replies »

  1. Didn’t realise I was trying to change your position. I am very much in favour of it.

    Why do Ineos need to share their figures with you??

    I think you will find you have handed them the opportunity to prove their case, without doing that.

    [Comment edited by moderator] I have written many an advert and press release and use the English language accurately, and deliberately. I think comments like “the sentence look as though you were suggesting” may be a problem when you speak with the ASA.

    But enough of my coaching. I am sure you will put the ball in the net, but I suspect it will prove to be an own goal.

    • Martin – let’s leave the ASA to work out if my command of English is sufficient to have made a few logical points about misleading statements shall we?

      Ineos don’t have to share any confidential information with me, I have not asked them to and I doubt they will share anything significant with the ASA.

      [Comment edited by moderator]

  2. Have a good weekend refracktion. I am closing down now for the weekend, and will leave nPower (other energy suppliers are available), to make my case for me.

  3. Something to do with potential to reduce energy costs when nPower have just announced a large price rise??

    Try arguing that one, with or without the ASA, to an nPower customer, or ask them to toot their car horn in support!!

    Energy prices rising equals the public tuned into potential cost savings. Static, or reducing energy prices, they could not care less.

    nPower are making the argument now, and increased fracking in USA will continue it in the not too distant future, with potential also for Iranian supplies to be removed from the market.

    All that is needed now is an “Artic Blast” for a few weeks!

    • You are not seriously suggesting UK fracking could do anything to reduce gas prices in the European market are you Martin? As to your reference to an “Artic Blast” for a few weeks – well fracking is clearly going to help there isn’t it? Not.

      Perhaps we can try to stay in the realms of the possible and avoid these flights of fancy about fracking saving our grannies, because that is not going to happen anywhere except on Peeny’s Fantasy Island. People may well pay more for their gas in 20 years (the natural gas futures market – 5 years out – suggests they shouldn’t in the short term unless they get ripped of by unjustified price hikes).

      Fracking in the UK is not going to have a material impact, so the question we need to ask your nPower customers is “How annoyed are you to see Energy Companies making huge profits at your expense and how willing are you to allow foreign speculators to ruin Lancashire and Yorkshire to make a few off-shore companies rich?” I suspect the answer would be short, sweet and anglo-saxon – at least from those who live in the targeted areas.

      Out of interest where do you live Martin ?

  4. I live atop some pretty decent oil reserves. Shame they have been covered over with housing estates all with gas/oil central heating BEFORE the oil/gas was extracted from down below. Perhaps if oil gets back to $100/barrel the cost of demolition will be justified.

    Artic blast-yes, it’s been snowing in the Sahara! Can’t get courgettes or lettuces from Spain. Must be global warming.

    You really should get SOME of your facts right. I know it seems to be a badge of honour to quote nonsense, but since when have Barclays or Ineos been “foreign speculators” or “off-shore companies”?? (I would match their UK taxation and contribution to public services against yours any-day. And, yes, their contribution to protecting the environment too.) How about Igas, Egdon or the various “bunch” around the Weald??

    Where did I say anything about the European market?? My interest is in UK fracking for the UK market. What they do over the channel is for them to debate with Vlad. (Don’t see a positive outcome to that if he brings his Labrador into the discussion.)

    People-nPower customers- WILL be paying more for gas and electricity very shortly, and that will include grannies-, so, once again facts seem to elude you. And some of the reason behind such increases?? Oh yes, the cost of alternative energy schemes that are imposed upon the energy suppliers.

    So, refracktion, who is supplying the oil and gas to Lancashire and Yorkshire now? The tooth fairy, or some foreign speculator and off-shore company?? Seems to me, last time I looked, some gas was being produced within view of Blackpool and in Yorkshire Third Energy have been producing gas for a very long time. But then, both counties have a coast line so it would still be possible to deforest USA into wood pellets and ship them over the Atlantic, leaving a dust bowl one side and hospitals full of choking patients the other! But I’m certain the grannies would be only too willing to contribute a little bit more to pay the extra, until they get to the front of the hospital queue!

    • since when have Barclays or Ineos been “foreign speculators” or “off-shore companies”

      er … since Ineos moved to Switzerland to avoid paying VAT Martin. Didn’t you know?

      You know where Cuadrilla’s backers are base I imagine?

      “Where did I say anything about the European market?? My interest is in UK fracking for the UK market”

      Then your understanding of how these things work is too limited for it to be worth continuing wasting time with you, honestly. I’m not being rude but you are just wasting our time here. It’s been a pleasure but now you’ve gone all Peeny and it’s too tiresome.

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