The fracking company, Third Energy Onshore Ltd, announced today it had appointed Keith Cochrane as its non-executive chairman.
He was formerly chief executive of the international engineering company, Weir Group, and is currently interim chief executive of the troubled construction firm, Carillion.
Third Energy, which plans to test frack a well before the end of the year at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire, also announced the appointment of Jitesh Gadhia as a senior independent director.
Third Energy is 97% owned by Barclays, which said in May 2017 it planned to sell its stake “at some point” (DrillOrDrop report).
In its most recent published accounts, Third Energy UK Gas Ltd recorded a loss of £3.8m and disclosed it owed more than £50m to parent and sister companies. Its turnover, of £428,000, was less than half that of 2014. (DrillOrDrop report).
Keith Cochrane was chief executive of The Weir Group from 2009-2016. Before this he was Group Director of Finance of Scottish Power. He has been a non-executive director of Carillion since 2015.
In July, The Guardian reported that he had been “parachuted in” to the top job at Carillion to conduct “a comprehensive review of the business” until a permanent successor was found. A report on the group’s finances by KPMG had revealed a hole in the accounts, the Guardian said.
In a statement today, Mr Cochrane said:
“I am delighted to be joining Third Energy at this exciting time. Having seen at first hand the development of the unconventional oil and gas industry across North America, I believe the case for accessing our own unconventional gas resources, here in the UK, is compelling. I look forward to working with the Third Energy team to make this prospect real.”
The other appointment, Jitesh Gadhia, is an investment banker and member of the House of Lords. He is a board member of UK Government Investments and UK Financial Investments and a director of BGL Group, which owns comparethemarket.com.
He previously held senior positions at Blackstone, Barclays Capital, ABN AMRO and Barings Brothers. He has been a high-value donor to the Conservative Party and was named in 2014 on a list of city figures who attended donors’ dinners with David Cameron and senior members of the then government.
A spokesperson for Frack Free Ryedale, which opposes Third Energy’s fracking plans at Kirby Misperton said:
“Third Energy Onshore Ltd may be appointing two new executives to their board, but it looks like they are just unfolding another couple of deckchairs on the Titanic.
“Third Energy UK Gas Ltd – the company owned by Third Energy Onshore which holds the licence to frack at Kirby Misperton – is currently over £50 million in the red, a turnover of only £428,000 and a net worth of minus £30 million.
“Even more worrying is the fact that its major backer, Barclays Bank, recently announced that they are divesting from fracking in North Yorkshire and selling their stake in Third Energy – if they can find someone who wants to buy it, of course.”
The Frack Free Ryedale spokesperson added:
“What should be of more interest to the public in Yorkshire is the fact that Third Energy claims to be a ‘local company’, yet it is owned by Third Energy Holding Ltd, which has its registered offices in the Cayman Islands.
“This appears to be another case of a company basing its economy offshore to avoid paying tax in the UK, as highlighted in the Panama Papers earlier this year. So much for Third Energy ‘helping the local economy’ – unless they are referring to the local economy of the Cayman Islands.”