A newspaper article in North Yorkshire led to speculation during the weekend that gas company, Third Energy, had already carried out test fracks at its Kirby Misperton well site.
A sentence in the article in the Scarborough News, signed by Third Energy director, Alan Linn, said:
“The work which Third Energy is progressing in Kirby Misperton takes advantage of an existing well where we have completed a series of test fracs and testing their potential to flow gas in commercial volumes.”
Some people living around Third Energy’s KM8 well became anxious that the company had fracked, without telling them and without the final consent needed from the government.
But this morning the Scarborough News confirmed that it had edited the text, misinterpreting a briefing from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The key words that caused the anxiety “where we have completed a series of test fracks” had been changed from “where we will be completing a series of test fracks”.
Third Energy said in early November that it was ready to frack at KM8 (DrillOrDrop report). But more than 10 weeks later, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has not yet given permission and there is no public timetable for a decision.
Some residents in the area have described how emotions were already running high before they read the newspaper article and confidence in Third Energy was being eroded.
There had been concern that noise and vibration in the early hours of 30 November 2017 was linked to operations at the KM8 well site.
A spokesperson for Third Energy said this afternoon:
“In November 2017, the Malton & Pickering Mercury, part of Scarborough News, requested Third Energy to write an op-ed on its planned hydraulic fracturing programme in Ryedale.
“However, the Scarborough News made an edit to the text, creating a significant inaccuracy, before publication on 18 January 2018. This was done without Third Energy’s knowledge and is especially disappointing as the text carried the by-line of Alan Linn, a Third Energy director.
“The Scarborough News will be publishing a correction in their next edition.
“For the record, Third Energy confirms that no test hydraulic fractures have taken place at Kirby Misperton.
“Third Energy has followed the regulatory regime for associated hydraulic fracturing as required by the Infrastructure Act of 2015. The company has all the required approvals from the regulators for associated hydraulic fracturing and we await the Secretary of State’s consent before hydraulic fracturing can begin.”
In response to questions from DrillOrDrop, Third Energy said there had been no form of fracture stimulation, test frack or hydraulic fracturing operation on 30 November 2017. The company also said no fluid had been circulated in the KM8 well on that day.
The Scarborough News said in an article this evening:
“A report in The Scarborough News and Malton & Pickering Mercury incorrectly stated that test fracks had already taken place at the KM8 site. The newspapers apologise for the error.”
Criticism and distrust
Frack Free Ryedale, which opposes Third Energy’s operation at Kirby Misperton, has repeatedly questioned the company’s operations.
The group recently called for the publication of Third Energy’s accounts, now overdue by three months. It also raised concerns about the appointment to a Third Energy board of Keith Cochrane, the interim chief executive of the now collapsed services company, Carillion.
Earlier this month, Frack Free Ryedale’s solicitor threatened a judicial review and injunction if consent for fracking was granted without official monitoring of a gas pipeline and hydrogen sulphide tests on rocks to be fracked. (DrillOrDrop report)
Hazel Winter, who lives in Kirby Misperton, said:
“Communication from the company has always been reactive rather than proactive and a lack of transparency from the outset has led to distrust.
“I was told at the very first public consultation that no start date for the operation was known, yet villagers received a letter the following day giving us a week’s notice.
“Reports from villagers of an odour, suspected to be low levels of hydrogen sulphide, provoked very little response and Environment Agency equipment was unable to pick up anything because of high wind.
“On behalf of the village I asked for a letter to be sent to confirm arrangements for Christmas, this was declined. Questions still remain regarding evacuation of the village in an emergency.”