DrillOrDrop’s August2017 digest of news about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas updated daily. For headlines from previous months, click here
Top August headlines so far
- Drilling begins at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site (17 August 2017)
- High Court dismisses challenge to government extension of gas exploration licence (15 August 2017)
- Council investigation into depth and planning approval of IGas Ellesmere Port well (14 August 2017)
- Nesting birds cause 5th delay to restoration at Becconsall shale site in Lancashire (11 August 2017)
- UKOG drills sidetrack at Broadford Bridge after section of well is washed out (9 August 2017)
- Approval for drilling at Lidsey, W Sussex, but rig delayed and planning permission breached again (9 August 2017)
- Force used at Lancashire shale site protests 165 times in 19 days (4 August 2017)
- INEOS announces location of third proposed shale gas site (3 August 2017)
- UK fracking support at record low, according to government survey (3 August 2017)
- Surrey councillors defer a decision on transport plans at Europa’s Leith Hill site (2 August 2017)
20 August 2017
What’s happening this week? 21-27 August 2017. DrillOrDrop weekly listing of events about UK fracking and onshore oil and gas.
19 August 2017
Last-ditch plea to block fracking. The Lancashire Telegraph reports on the Friends of the Earth petition to ask Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, to refuse a hydraulic fracturing consent for Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site.
18 August 2017
Fracking research and report round-up: August 2017. DrillOrDrop review of briefings, research, studies and reports form the past six months.
Sale of Green Investment Bank completed. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy reports that the UK Government has completed the sale of the Green Investment Bank to Macquarie Group Ltd.
17 August 2017
Breaking: Cuadrilla confirms it began drilling at its Preston New Road site near Blackpool early this afternoon. DrillOrDrop report with reaction. DeSmogUK, Natural Gas World, 2BR, Financial Times, Blackpool Gazette, The Times (18 August 2017), BBC News, Climate Change,
Ask Greg Clark to refuse fracking permission in Lancashire. Friends of the Earth launches a petition asking the Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, to not issue Cuadrilla’s fracking consent application.
UK shale gas overhyped because geology is unsuitable for fracking – Scottish research. DrillOrDrop report, BBC News, The Herald, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Utility Week, Hargreaves Landsdown, Scottish Greens
Fracking in Worksop? Equipment scattered across the town prompts concerns. The Gainsborough Standard reports that seismic testing is being carried out across Worksop. The paper says “Confused dogwalkers and residents in the area have been stumbling on equipment being used by energy company INEOS to determine if shale gas development could be undertaken at the sites. These include patches of land close to the Bassetlaw Showground and College Pines Gold Club.”
16 August 2017
Interview: Government must make case for onshore drilling and companies must talk to communities – industry body. DrillOrDrop report and transcript of interview with Ken Cronin, of UK Onshore Oil and Gas.
Fourth Women’s Call protest at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site. The regular event is a protest against operations at the site near Blackpool and the policing of protests. Photos by Cheryl Atkinson
Why fracking is vital to cut down on gas imports and create 64,000 jobs. Herald Scotland carries a piece by Ken Cronin, of the industry body Onshore oil and Gas, about the benefits of shale gas.
YP Letters: Fracking would bring nothing but misery. Irene Wilde, writing to The Yorkshire Post, says fracking could danger health and lead to mass unemployment. She asks:
“Who in their right mind would buy a house which is going to be fracked under? Indeed who would provide them with a mortgage? Therefore, who would build new homes near such sites if there was no market for them?”
Banned elsewhere so why allowed here? Mrs K Hough, writing to The Lancashire Evening Post, welcomes protests outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool. She says:
“Okay, there has been disruption for the traffic around that area, but surely that must be worth it in the long run? Once Cuadrilla gets the go-ahead, you will see these types of sites moving in all over the country.”
Protest impact is too much. Mr G Cash, also writing to The Lancashire Evening Post, criticises the protesters:
“No responsible person can claim this is peaceful or lawful protest! It will continue until pressure is brought to bear on the authorities and the police to do more, with increased powers, to clear the highway.”
Q&A: The return of UK fracking what it could mean for the climate. Carbon Brief reports on climate questions facing fracking in the UK
15 August 2017
High Court dismisses resident’s challenge to government extension of gas exploration licence in Cheshire. DrillOrDrop report of reserved ruling issued on 14 August 2017.
Shadow justice minister and Labour MP for Bolton South East, Yasmin Qureshi, visits Preston New Road shale gas site. The MP joined the prospective parliamentary candidate for Fylde, Jed Sullivan, and Labour councillor, Lorraine Beavers outside Cuadrilla’s site near Blackpool. Bolton News
Anti-fracking protestor from Stroud is one of four arrested in Lancashire for obstructing the highway. Stroud News reports that a protester from the town was one of four arrested in Lancashire during anti-fracking demonstrations. Jo Woolley, was arrested with three other women while lying down outside the Preston New Road shale gas site. She is due to appear before Blackpool Magistrates Court on 11 September.
14 August 2017
IGas drilled Ellesmere Port gas well 1,000m deeper than planning approval, says council. DrillOrDrop report
Greens arrive to add voice to anti-fracking protest. Former Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, and members of environmental organisations, took part in a protest outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site. She said:
“I’m disappointed to be having to make my third visit to the Preston New Road site. The public of Lancashire, indeed the UK public, have made it very clear that they do not want fracking.
“Lancashire County Council said no, the protectors on site, working day and night for months in the face of aggressive policing, have said fracking must not happen here, yet still Cuadrilla is throwing its shareholders money into a project that doesn’t have community consent.
“The Green Party has supported anti-fracking campaigns from the start, and the campaigns have been highly successful in preventing the start of an industry whose existence is indefensible on climate change, safety and wellbeing, and economic grounds. “We, and the protectors, are also championing the alternatives – community-owned renewables and energy efficiency, which create business opportunities, jobs and energy security.”
See also Blackpool Gazette
Blackpool councillors charged with obstruction in anti-fracking protest. The Independent reports that councillors Gina Dowding, Julie Brickles and Miranda Cox have appeared in Blackpool Magistrates Court charged will willfully obstructing a highway and offences under the Trades Union and Labour Relations Consolidation Act. They deny the charges.
This is more than a fight to protect our environment. This is a struggle for democracy. Imogen Smith, a campaigner at Reclaim the Power’s Rolling Resistance anti-fracking protest in Lancashire last month writes in the Huffington Post about why she got involved.
Shell and Exxon face censure over claim gas was ‘cleanest fossil fuel’. The Guardian reports that the Dutch advertising watchdog will on Tuesday censure Shell and Exxon for claiming that natural gas was “the cleanest of all fossil fuels” in an advert earlier this year. It will be the second time this summer that the Netherlands advertising standards board has ruled against the fossil fuels industry, after it slapped down Statoil in June for calling gas a “clean energy” and “low emissions fuel”.
UKOG share price resumes uptrend after French stake building. Investment Observer reports shares in UKOG have resumed their uptrend after retracing from an all-time record on 7 August.
13 August 2017
What’s happening this week? 14-20 August 2017. DrillOrDrop’s weekly update of events about fracking, shale gas and the onshore oil and gas industry.
The Big Challenge: Mission to keep Sheffield green. Jenny Carpenter, writing in the Sheffield Telegraph, says strong co-ordinated local opposition is raising awareness of fracking as a climate change issue. “Shale gas is a fossil fuel – we need to leave it in the ground. The prospect of associated HGVs bringing water and chemicals to the drilling sites and then carrying waste polluted water away, probably to Blackburn Meadows, should be ringing alarm bells in the city itself.”
12 August 2017
The Government is using Brexit to take control away from citizens and give it to corporations. Nick Dearden, writing in The Independent, predicts British citizens will their ability to hold the government to account in court but foreign multinationals will gain rights to sue the government in secret arbitration panels, known as Investor State Dispute Settlement. Countries have, he argues, been secretly sued for actions such as placing a moratorium on fracking.
Labour accused of “identify crisis” as it tries to out-green the Greens. The Herald reports that Scottish Labour will claim to be more green than the Scottish Greens. A programme includes meeting 50% of electricity, heat and transport from renewables by 2030 and a ban on onshore fracking. The Greens said Scottish Labour was suffering an identity crisis, the paper reports
11 August 2017
Council bans pedestrians from verges next to Lancashire fracking site until 2019 after spending £59k on security guards. DrillOrDrop report
Nesting birds prompt fifth delay for restoration at Becconsall shale site, Lancs. DrillOrDrop report
Vigil in support of Standing Rock at Preston New Road. Opponents of shale gas drilling in Lancashire joined people from the Forest of Dean, Lancaster, Stockport and Manchester for rally outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site.
“Let’s work together to fight fracking plans”. The Rotherham Advertiser reports that anti- fracking campaigners have vowed to work together after plans to drill for shale gas in a second village were announced. Around 70 people turned out for a walk and demonstration in Harthill on Sunday, where fracking firm Ineos hope to carry out the controversial works. The walk was held just three days after the firm posted notices in Woodsetts, which said a site south of Dinnington Road in the village had been highlighted as having potential for drilling.
Greens invite Michael Gove to fracking sites after tree felling intervention. The Green Party reports its co-leader Jonathan Bartley, has written to Environment Secretary Michael Gove to invite him to meet residents in Sheffield who are campaigning against fracking. The letter follows Gove’s intervention to oppose Sheffield Council’s controversial tree felling programme. On August 10 Gove wrote to council leader Julie Dore and chief executive John Mothersole to demand an end to the felling of healthy trees.
Fracking opposition. Nigel Hennerley, of High Legh Green Party, writes in the Knutsford Guardian about the INEOS injunction. He says if fracking goes ahead, people will have no faith in the authorities to protect them. “No wonder then that people would seek to take matters into their own hands and want to object and disrupt an un-proven, high risk industry which has the real potential to contaminate our environment and damage our health for generations to come.”
10 August 2017
Backing Fracking applauds “Frack Off activists” banner on motorway. The shale support group, Backing Fracking, reported in a press release that a banner had been erected over the M55 motorway and was visible westbound between Preston and Kirkham. The group said described it as “an apparent sign of residents’ growing frustration with the behaviour of national anti-fracking activists protesting outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road. The group said it was known who installed the banner.
Anti-fracking group insist Scottish Government consults better than UK counterparts. Commonspace reports comments by the Broad Alliance, which supported the Scottish Government fracking information website Talking Fracking. The Scottish Government consultation on fracking had 60,000 responses, the second biggest ever recorded by a public consultation.
Lancashire: from the fracking frontline. Researcher, Hanna Wheatley, reports for the New Economics Foundation on protests at Preston New Road against Cuadrilla’s fracking plans.
9 August 2017
UKOG drills sidetrack at Broadford Bridge oil site after section of borehole is “washed out”. DrillOrDrop report
Actors Sue Jameson and James Bolam join residents to hand in objections to exploration plans at Broadford Bridge in West Sussex. DrillOrDrop report
Campaigners raise fears as fracking firm INEOS gets injunction to prevent ‘militant’ protest. The Winsford Guardian and The Northwich Guardian report on the INEOS injunction and reaction from local campaign groups. See DrillOrDrop report on 31 July.
Women’s Call protest at Preston New Road. Gathering of women in protest at what they say is aggressive policing of demonstrations against fracking plans by Cuadrilla at its Preston New Road site near Blackpool.
“Cuadrilla’s security is attacking protesters while the police look the other way”. Tina Rothery talks to The Richie Allen Show on Brainfeed.TV about protests at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site.
These are the oil drilling sites active or awaiting commission in and around Surrey. Get Surrey reports on sites at Horse Hill, Leith Hill, Brockham and Bletchingley, which all have planning or environmental permit applications with regulators.
Cheap Gas and Money for Schools: An Oil Industry Plan to Save the World. DeSmogUk reports on a UN-sanctioned document which outlines the oil and gas sector’s vision to be a “key part” of efforts to encourage sustainable development. DeSmog says the document was written by International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA), the oil and gas industry’s main access point to the UN climate negotiations. It was co-authored by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, which has previously provided hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to coal power plants in the name of economic development.
US fracking oil industry in trouble: investors losing faith?? SRSRocco reports that Andy Hall is shutting his main hedge fund, Astenbeck Master Commodies Fund II, after it lost 30% in the first half of 2017. The report also notes that Pioneer Natural Resources Co was down 16.5% since reporting results. It cut its guidance on how many more barrels of oil it would produce this year, blaming “train wreck” wells suffering from changes in pressure and the amount of water coming up.
US shale breakeven price revealed around $50: Kemp. Reuters reports US shale producers need a WTI (West Texas Intermediate) oil price of around $50 per barrel to break even, according to analysis of financial statements for the second quarter of 2017. The agency reported that 15 of the largest shale oil and gas producers recorded total net losses of $470m for the three months between April and June when benchmark WTI prices averaged $48.
8 August 2017
Egdon Resources applies for environmental permit variation for Keddington. The Environment Agency publishes details of an application to vary the permit for Egdon’s Keddington Wellsite at South Cokerington, near Louth in Lincolnshire. A consultation runs until 6 September 2017.
INTERVIEW: North East Derbyshire MP, Lee Rowley, gives his views on fracking, HS2 and greenbelt. The Derbyshire Times interviews the new Conservative MP, who says he’s opposed to fracking at Marsh Lane in his constituency but does not “rule out fracking in principle”. He tells the paper:
“On the specific Marsh Lane application that is the wrong application in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“It is the wrong application because I think that by any stretch of the imagination that part of Marsh Lane, a rural community, a small village, next to a beautiful set of fields, that is not where we want a significant amount of industrial equipment which would come with fracking.
“I am going to oppose it and I am going to put my own objections against it to Derbyshire County Council and I am supporting the residents in anyway I can on that.”
On fracking generally, he says:
“I am willing to look at fracking long term and to look at new ways of producing energy long term if they can be proven to be safe and efficient and effective for the country. I am not going to rule out fracking in principle and if other communities want to do fracking it is not for me to tell whether they can or can’t.”
Filmmaker Dave turns fracking into a thriller. The York Press reports that York-based filmmaker, Dave Thorp, has completed a 30-minute thriller about fracking, called 2 Miles Under – and is hoping to show it at international festivals.
Debate on fracking explored in PhD student’s award-winning essay. Imperial College London reports that one of its PhD students won an international award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science for an essay on the human rights impact of fracking.
7 August 2017
What’s happening this week? 7-13 August 2017. DrillOrDrop’s listings of events about fracking and the onshore oil and gas industry.
SLAPPS and ‘aggressive cold calling’: How INEOS is selling shale. Andy Rowell, reporting for Spinwatch on the INEOS injunction (DrillOrDrop report on 31 July) says it could be construed as a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP, designed to chill people through legal intimidation. He also reports on cold-calling on behalf of INEOS to secure access to land for seismic surveying.
Fossil fuel subsidies are a staggering $5tn per year. The Guardian reports on a study which finds that 6.5% of global GDP goes to subsidize fossil fuels. The study finds the subsidies promote fossil fuel use, which damages the environment, discourage investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy and are very inefficient in supporting low-income households.,
“Dodgy” greenhouse gas data threatens Paris accord. The BBC reports potent climate-warming gases are being emitted into the atmosphere but not recorded in official inventories. Researchers believe the flaws in record-keeping, which may be up to 100% out, pose a bigger threat to the Paris climate agreement than the US decision to withdraw.
6 August 2017
Letters: Questions raised over consultation. Ian Conlon, writing to the Gazette and Herald, asks why North Yorkshire County Council had not consulted residents on a loophole in Third Energy’s traffic management plan for the Kirby Misperton fracking site, which allows alternative routes to be used without restrictions on the time they can be used.
French firm SCDM Energy snaps up a stake in Ukog. City AM reports that SCDM Energy, the French gas firm owned by the billionaire Bouygues family, increased its stake in UK Oil & Gas Investments plc to more than 5% last week. Ukog’s shares closed at 7.88p, up 1.94 per cent, on Friday, having risen from a price of around 1p in June. That brings the company’s market capitalisation to £277m and means SCDM’s five per cent stake is worth around £14m. This is Money (5 August 2017). See also DrillOrDrop headline of 1 August 2017 below.
4 August 2017
Cuadrilla ‘getting away’ with fracking rig breach. BBC News reports that campaigners have accused Cuadrilla of riding roughshod over planning enforcement policy after about 30 lorries took a drilling rig into the site at about 4.45am on 27 July, before the hours permitted under a traffic management plan.
Anti-frack protester obstructed highway. The Blackpool Gazette reports that 23-year-old anti-fracking campaigner, Joseph Haslem, of Blackpool, was found guilty of obstructing the highway. After a trial at Blackpool Magistrates Court, he was given an 18-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £620 costs. The court was told he was among protesters who gathered at the entry to the Cuadrilla shale gas site on 1 March. He denied the charge, saying he and other protesters were trying to stop a fellow protesters who had health problems being knocked over.
Bell Pottinger faces another probe over South Africa work. PR Week reports that Bell Pottinger is facing a probe by a third UK industry body – the Association of Professional Political Consultants – over its controversial work with South Africa’s Oakbay Investments. South Africa’s opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has contacted companies which procure services of Bell Pottinger, including Cuadrilla Resources, Centrica, Virgin Media, Currencies Direct, RSA Group, Williams Grand Prix Holdings and Waitrose. According to PR Week, only Waitrose is currently a client though others have been in the past.
Chester, Ellesmere Port and Weaver Vale MPs issue tough anti-fracking message. The Chester Chronicle reports that Labour MPs Justin Madders, Chris Matheson and Mike Amesbury are opposing IGas plans for shale gas testing at Ellesmere Port.
Irish fracking imports make “hypocrites of ministers”. The Times reports the Irish government has been accused of hypocrisy by allowing liquified gas which was created through fracking to be imported at Cork harbour. A liquefied natural gas tanker is to be moored permanently at the harbour, which is close to the Whitegate and Aghada gas-powered electricity stations. The tanker will be used to store gas imported by sea from fracking operations in the United States despite the government passing a bill in June to ban the process in Ireland.
Classic tunes from iconic Madchester music scene. The Lancashire Evening Post pictures Happy Mondays’ maracas man, Bez, on stage at Hacienda Classical for Lytham Festival dressed in a Frack Free Lancashire t-shirt.
John Mann MP invites INEOS to leave Bassetlaw. In a guest column in the Worksop Guardian, the MP responds, among other issues, to INEOS’s court injunction.
UN Report Criticises UK’s Crackdown on Access to Environmental Justice. DeSmogUK reports that the The UK has been criticised in a new United Nations report for its poor record on providing fair access to the court system for people trying to protect their environment. The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee report said the UK’s recent law reforms moved it “further away” from fulfilling its duty to allow citizens to bring forward environmental cases.
3 August 2017
UK support for fracking a record low – latest government survey. DrillOrDrop report
Residents begin air and water monitoring around Sussex oil exploration site in advance of flow testing. DrillOrDrop report
Fracking war of words escalates. The Blackpool Gazette reports a petition to remove Cuadrilla’s drilling rig delivered in breach of planning conditions is approaching 5,000 signatures. The paper also says the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce has urged fed-up businesses to complain to the county police commissioner about protesters blocking the A583 near the Cuadrilla site.
Anti-fracking protesters from Stroud arrested for lying in path of lorry. Gloucestershire Live reports four anti-fracking protesters have been charged by police after lying down in front of lorries heading to an exploratory drilling site. Dr Gail Bradbrook, Jo Woolley and two others, all from the town, were among a group arrested at Preston New Road, near Blackpool on July 26.
7 earthquakes struck Oklahoma in 28 hours for a disturbing reason. Business Insider reports Oklahoma was hit by five quakes on Tuesday night and two more on Thursday. All measured 2-5 and no significant damage was reported. The disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking), appears to have spiked the likelihood of earthquakes in Oklahoma, potentially raising the state to the same earthquake threat level as California, according to a recent USGS forecast.
2 August 2017
Further delays for Europa’s oil drilling plans near Surrey beauty spot as councillors defer decision on traffic management plan. DrillOrDrop report
Mole Valley District Council objects to Europa’s traffic management plan for Bury Hill Wood oil exploration site, nr Leith Hill, Surrey.
Mole Valley District Councl also votes “no objection” to Angus Energy retrospective planning applic on new buildings at Brockham oil site
Live updates on Surrey County Council meeting of Europa’s traffic management plan for Bury Hill Wood oil exploration site near Leith Hill. DrillOrDrop report
Lancashire Police arrest 12 people following lock-on protests outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site. The direct action was at Preston New Road, which prevented deliveries for much of the day. All 12 people who took part were charged under Section 241 of the Trades Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act. All photos above by Ros Wills. Blackpool Gazette
Cuadrilla ‘takes risks’ as fracking resistance rolls on. The Ecologist reports on demonstrations at Cuadrilla’s Lancashire shale gas site and responses from protesters to the company.
Residents in Barlborough launch anti-fracking campaign group. The Derbyshire Times reports that residents in Barlborough formed a group to oppose shale gas exploration following an INEOS exhibition in the village.
Truck exhaust might be causing health problems around fracking sites. WBUR – a radio station in Boston, USA, reports that a medical study found people living close to fracking sites are more likely to experience health problems and it might be down to vehicle exhaust.
Emissions from NT’s McArthur basin would dwarf those from Adani coalmine. The Guardian reports that fracking the McArthur basin in Australia’s Northern Territory could release four-five times as much greenhouse gas emissions as the proposed Adani Carmichael mine. The estimate was made by Tim Forcey, a chemical engineer with 30 years’ experience in petrochemicals appearing before a Northern Territory inquiry.
1 August 2017
All Approvals for a Rig-less Flow Test in Place, Broadford Bridge-1 Exploration Well. UKOG announces that all its permissions for flow testing are now in place following a review by the Health and Safety Executive.
SCDM Energy increases holdings in UKOG. UKOG also notes that the French-owned oil and gas exploration and production company has increased its holding to 174,954,179 ordinary shares, representing 5.03% of the issued share capital. UKOG has also received notice of the exercise of warrants to subscribe for a total of 40,625,000 new ordinary shares, at a value to UKOG of £325,000. It is anticipated these shares will be admitted to AIM on 4 August 2017. Proactive Investors (UKOG shares rise as investors look forward to Broadford Bridge production test)
Revisiting the resistance on England’s fracking frontline. DeSmogUk reports on protests at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site.
“Leave Bassetlaw”, MP tells INEOS. John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, uses Facebook to invite INEOS to “leave Bassetlaw immediately”, following news that the company has taken out an injunction at the High Court against obstruction and interference in its shale gas activities (see DrillOrDrop report of 31 July 2017).