Former Labour MP for Derbyshire shale village to work for INEOS

natascha engel

INEOS has commissioned the former Labour MP for North East Derbyshire, Natascha Engel, to a write a booklet on shale gas.

Ms Engel switched from opposition to support for shale gas despite plans by INEOS to drill in the village of Marsh Lane in her constituency. She correctly predicted to DrillOrDrop this could be electorally damaging.

She was narrowly defeated in the 2017 general election by the Conservative, Lee Rowley, who last week told MPs he had “complete and absolute opposition” to exploratory drilling in the constituency. DrillOrDrop reporte

A press statement from INEOS today said Ms Engel’s booklet would “better explain shale exploration and development” and would be “made available to the local community”.

INEOS said:

“Most importantly it will try to try to explain the issue as part of the wider context about combating climate change, our energy needs, and the positive impact on jobs, training, industry and community benefits.”

Ms Engel is quoted:

“I saw first-hand what the impacts are on small communities when they hear about a shale gas application near them – even when it’s only for exploratory drilling.

“What people want is information. They want to know how it will affect them and they want reassurance that it is safe. I hope that this booklet will provide some of those certainties.

“Most of all I hope that this will allow INEOS to work constructively with communities so that local people gain the most in terms of the jobs and apprenticeships that this industry could bring – something I have campaigned on for most of my adult life.”

Marsh Lane plans

Notice at Marsh Lane 170426 DoD

Opposition to fracking at Marsh Lane. Photo: DrillOrDrop

More than 88,000 people have signed a petition against fracking at Marsh Lane and there have been 5,000 objections to INEOS’s planning application for a vertical coring well (but not fracking).

When news of the application first emerged in January, Ms Engel told The Derbyshire Times:

“This is terrible news for the people of Marsh Lane and Eckington. Many residents have contacted me concerned for their safety and the security of their houses. I will be meeting INEOS and the county council to see how we can get a safety zone around areas where people live.”

Her constituency office in Eckington had an anti-fracking poster.

Natascha Engel office

Natascha Engel’s constituency office, January 2017. Photo: DrillOrDrop

But by the time of the election she had changed her mind. She wrote on her website (no longer accessible):

“I am not against fracking as long as the industry stays highly regulated and controlled. If taking shale out of the ground in the UK means that we have fewer greenhouse gas emissions, that we can control our own energy and get prices down because we are not importing it, if it creates a whole new industry with good jobs, if it is good for Derbyshire, then I support it.”

Powerbase reports that Ms Engel voted to make fracking companies apply for an environmental permit for conducting exploratory drilling (January 2015) but she was absent for a vote on a fracking moratorium. She voted against requiring more pre-conditions for where fracking could take place (February 2015) but she was absent for a vote on loosening conditions for when fracking took place in protected areas and national parks (December 2015).

Tom Pickering, Operations Director at INEOS Shale said:

“Natascha will give us a better insight into the needs and concerns of residents. As a former Labour MP and trade unionist, Natascha has always made the case for good jobs, as well as health and safety. At the same time, Natascha is well placed to give us a full understanding of local issues and help us to continue to be an open and inclusive organisation.”


171129 Bramleymoor Lane appeal notice.jpg

ON 24 November 2017, INEOS said it was lodging an appeal against non-determination of the Marsh Lane application and another at Harthill in Rotherham borough. The company said no decision had been made by the local councils “in reasonable time periods”. DrillOrDrop report

An INEOS spokesperson said the appeal was submitted that day. Earlier this week, INEOS’s agent posted notices about the appeal at the proposed site in Marsh Lane. People are advised to contact the Planning Inspectorate.

But the Planning Inspectorate told DrillOrDrop today that it had not received the appeal for Marsh Lane or Harthill. We have asked INEOS for clarification.

39 replies »

  1. Oh dear refracktion! I suggest you leave the economics alone. UK fracked gas does not need to be CHEAPER than imported LNG. It can be exactly the same price, but then taxes are paid in the UK from it’s production, and from it’s employment. On top of that 7% is paid to local communities. Errm, where does that exist for imported LNG? Were you hibernating during the North Sea development? Have you not observed Norway and their Wealth Fund produced from exactly these sort of benefits?
    Well. of course you have, and you are well aware of these considerations, but you are determined that others should digest your speculation and not look at anyone who might highlight and counter such absurdities.

    You might get away with it this time, as I’m not sure an ex Labour MP will be too hot on income and taxation. Borrowing and spending may be more her experience.

  2. Martin. It would be interesting to see the UK adopt the Norwegian Statoil model and turn O&G into a largely state own enterprise . That would give our democracy, and hopefully local democracies, a greater share and say in any wealth fund and profits thus generated. 7% out of tax revenues (not ‘on top of’ as you say) for the local areas is a measly sum compared to what the land owners get in the USA by the way.

    If we were willing to learn more from Statoil we’d find that they have been disappointed with shale potentials outside of the USA (which they have a significant stake in), including Norway’s which had as much potential shale gas as the UK. Recoverability estimates soon dropped to zero however, after testing, and their advice is that they’d anticipate the same issues with the UK geology along with the added issues of population density, countryside preservation and so on. That view coincides with a broad study of UK geology and potential shale gas economics (for the UK) done by Durham University a few years ago and the more recent statements by a Scottish professor pointing out the contorted nature of the strata make them nothing like the nearly ideal ‘layer cake’ models that they’re used to in the USA ( see diagram in this link: ). There are in fact so many convolutions and faults intersecting the many strata that not only is it more likely that trapped gasses have escaped millions of years ago it means there is a greatly increased risk of rogue migration of chemicals and gases through the layers, and of earth tremors where faults have tension or compression forces ‘locked in’ that can be released by new disturbances.

    Refracktion is probably closer to the mark than you on the economics.

  3. Sorry PhilipP, but quoting Prof Smyth etc. has absolutely no relevance.

    You are aware oil and gas around the world is basically CARTELLED?? Think back to the 1970s if you find that difficult to grasp.

    Yes, USA fracking has weakened the control of that cartel, as USA was the largest importer. Now it is not, then the cartel reacts to that with controlled output to achieve a new balance. (Met within the last few days, and did just that.)

    So, if UK started fracking and producing much more of it’s own gas, it does not mean that the price would drop instantly, as our volume of use is somewhat different to that of the USA.

    What it does mean is that the country would be much more insulated from any supply problems from unstable parts of the world, causing price hikes, and if fracking was developed then tax revenues would accrue. If it isn’t successful, then they will not.

    Trying the old argument of UK will not successfully produce gas from fracking and then attempting the industrialisation of the countryside argument is just plain, contradicting nonsense-especially when both are based on speculation. (It’s like saying a new ship will sink, and we will waste money building thousands of them! Economics closer to a mark, yes-F-Failed) And really, you should research the proposals regarding funding to the communities, and nationally, a little better. Perhaps this lady will actually be able to help in that respect. But, of course, that’s what the antis fear.

    • So .. evidence and arguments are irrelevant (including from 3 expert UK studies and the advice of two huge international players in Shale gas – Chesapeake and Statoil), because of what? because you say so. Be careful about which side you think the cranks are on.

  4. “Evidence and arguments” err no PhilipP-speculation is somewhat different. If it was “evidence and arguments” you could ignore the whole issue, as it would automatically peter out, but your activities prove you have no confidence in the “evidence and arguments”. I think you are in danger of exposing the weakness of your own position.

    Why do you think Ineos are willing to spend all this time and money on seismic testing if the “existing evidence” is so compelling??

    Keep on with this nonsense economics and science speculation against Ineos and you will be destroyed. I know that the antis will not take that advice, which is why I give it.

    You are keen on asking questions, let me ask you one.

    With the sort of comments that you have been trotting out, what will be your argument if test fracking produces commercial quantities of gas? I think I know the answer to that, having read Prof. Smythe’s comments-it will be a non representative pocket! The problem with that, is that such an event will be mainstream media material and such an excuse will not wash. Tough one. You could always fall back on the capitalism and investor smokescreen.

    • Total keen to jump ship and take advantage of recently announced offshore tax breaks.

      “Total’s decision to reduce its holding of UK onshore acreage is in line with its strategy to concentrate on its current British offshore assets.”

      Scotland has looked at the numbers.

      The economic argument for shale is dead unless energy prices rise significantly, the earth starts cooling rapidly and renewable prices stop falling

      I wonder what the odds are on that happening

    • ‘Keep on with this nonsense economics and science speculation against Ineos and you will be destroyed’…
      Are you for real?

  5. You clearly don’t check the science at all Martin. Calling it all speculation is the only way you can remain in your comfort zone. So the detailed charting of strata and faults presented by two studies and taught to geology students in England are all speculation and nonsense are they?

    I have no doubt there will be the odd pocket of commercially recoverable shale gas and as per my prediction that you may recall – that this could work commercially for INEOS for a while, they have most to gain from the spinoff gasses – ethanes etc. that they can crack at the economically struggling plastics factory at Grangemouth. If they weigh that against the price of gas sold to the grid they could possibly recover their costs and so effectively be running the factory off ‘free’ mainland feedstocks rather than having to ship the stuff in. I wouldn’t expect it to get past a few wells though before there’s a serious accident or pollution incident and it all gets shut down. My hunch is that they probably won’t even get that far.

  6. Seems a bit strange to question my understanding of science and economics PhilipP, when you base your position on your “HUNCH”!!

    Thanks for proving my comments about speculation.

    Whilst our little chats are quite amusing, it comes down to your speculation against a world class successful business willing to invest £500m (minimum) to see if the project will work. Sorry to disappoint you, but my inclination is to currently follow a company that has been very successful at backing science and economics, rather than your hunches. I suppose there is always a chance that choice could not work out, but I favour the odds that it will.

    • I have no doubt your flutters on the stock market are based on hunches Martin. I won’t be backing yours though . You reveal them all the time btw , as explicit in your last sentence.

      A company whose boss [edited by moderator] deserves to lose that investment. But he can afford it and won’t care.

  7. Oh yes, PhilipP, I have invested a huge amount in Ineos!!

    Keep digging. Please tell me how to invest in Ineos. It does seem to be a preoccupation with the antis but currently as factual as herding unicorns. I wouldn’t go there too much. If that becomes an option, game over.

    The difficulty is trying to calculate whether some of the antis are so lacking in basic knowledge of the subject (some are) or so intent at assuming their audience are (many others are in that camp.) Neither are very positive.

    Sorry to disappoint you PhilipP but I am not wealthy, or silly, enough to base any investments on hunches. Wasn’t it the mantra from the antis recently to DYOR-that’s quite different.

    • I didn’t say you had Martin (invested in INEOS). Why should I? It’s not publicly listed. My second para has a different subject to the first if you care to read it carefully. I was talking about the huge sum the company had invested (that you referred to earlier).

    • Well Martin.
      As Jim only owns a % of his company, then someone owns the rest? Maybe you could get friendly with them and get some shares?
      Oh, and that’s Jim that pays only 7% tax who ran away from the UK because he was asked to pay a decent amount of his billions instead of hording for himself, who was invited to open an office in London by a Con man and who wants to frack the hell out of his birth town to get the tiny amount of ethane to fill the sea with more plastic junk. Nice.

  8. I posted the second comment of this lengthening string, but am now very dismayed at how many later contributors seem to be engaging in in-fighting, trying to gain an upper hand over others.
    Would it not be better to avoid doing that and concentrate on fighting the real source of our concern – Ineos, that Labour MP, or perhaps better still, a concerted effort to force the Energy Secretary to see what we believe to be sense……?

    • ‘Would it not be better to avoid doing that and concentrate on fighting the real source of our concern’

      Rest assured, Paul H, this is being done through the proper channels. It’s been nearly eight years now.; these things take time.
      Labour now have in their manifesto to stop fracking. The ex MP who happens to be a member of the Labour Party, but not follow its manifesto is just another example of moths to the moon. INEOS clearly have a separate agenda. This will be revealed in time. You cannot force the Energy Secretary to do anything, the tendrils go deep. Besides, we live in a democracy?

      There are many sock puppets on this blog, so am afraid you will have to go with the flow.
      Thanks for taking the time to add your contribution.

  9. Sherwulfe-you really think that within Ineos it is open for the owners to simply sell on their “bits”?? You are equally confused around the 7%. But, it cheers up a damp soggy Sunday.

    I do find it strange that anyone should be wanting to fight the real source of our concern, and referencing a person who will be producing a booklet to inform the public-before that booklet has been produced! And this from someone who does not want to gain the upper hand over others. Surely, that is the purpose of censorship?

    • Martin. The 7% was the Swiss tax rate.
      For information:

      In March 2010 it was reported that Ineos were moving their headquarters to Switzerland to save 540million euros over four years, money that would have been paid in tax in the UK. At the time they owed £350 million in VAT which they asked for a deferral which was refused.

      In 2015 they are moving some of the business back to Knightsbridge London UK after the Cons reduce the corporate tax rate. It was reported that the company had saved £100 million a year over the five years; money that could have financed social care and the NHS.

      Also in 2015, it was reported in the EStandard that JR owns a house in Chelsea and also has a ‘New Forest beach house, which he has recently applied to demolish and replace with a contemporary £4 million carbon-neutral mansion that can be raised on hydraulic stilts to protect it from potential rising sea levels.’. How interesting? Pump up the fossil fuel, ramp up the climate change, and jack up your house and bugger everyone else.

      Also ‘The group is a proponent of developing shale gas in the UK, though not in the south where the population is too dense.’ – or not where I live…….

      You can check all this out if you can be bothered.

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