Keep up with the news with DrillOrDrop’s February 2018 digest of headlines about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas updated daily.
Click here for headlines from previous months
19 February 2018
Environment Agency “minded” to approve Leith Hill oil drilling plans but seeks public views before final decision. DrillOrDrop report
January 2018 policing costs at Third Energy fracking site were the lowest monthly total so far, according to figures from N Yorkshire Police. DrillOrDrop report
Residents unhappy with oil and gas consultations in south east England – MEP’s survey. DrillOrDrop report
Water quality and resources at risk from fracking, says Environment Agency new report. DrillOrDrop report
First “lorry surfing” protest at Tinker Lane. Opponents of shale gas drilling by IGas at Tinker Lane in north Nottinghamshire report a protester has climbed on top of a lorry for the first time at the site.
Musical Monday protest outside gates to Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton fracking site in North Yorkshire. Video by Leigh Coghill.
Fracking row: Treasury ‘showing shambolic conflict of interest’. The Guardian picks up on the appointment to the Third Energy board of Jitesh Gadhia, a Conservative party donor and non-executive director at the Treasury body, UK Government Investments. The appointment is criticised by Friends of the Earth
18 February 2018
What’s happening this week? DrillOrDrop weekly diary of events for 19-25 February 2018.
Meet the Yorkshire villagers fighting the frackers. The Observer reports on people opposing Third Energy’s fracking plans at Kirby Misperton, with interviews with Eddie Thornton, Jim Brooks, Michelle Easton, Helen Chuntso, Jackie Brooks and Carol Towner.
16 February 2018
Controls needed to cut risk of spills and leaks from UK shale gas industry – new research. DrillOrDrop report
UKOG responds to Angus Energy comments on operations at Broadford Bridge. DrillOrDrop report
Changes planned to questions in government survey of fracking views. DrillOrDrop report
Angus Energy completes first stage of Balcombe partnership. Angus Energy reports that it has made a £1.85m payment to Cuadrilla Balcombe Ltd and Lucas Bolney Ltd as part of the joint venture giving Angus a 25% stake in the Balcombe licence, PEDL244.
Keane Duncan: A Tory councillor’s insight on an anti-fracking meeting – and the need for respect. Cllr Duncan, the youngest member of North Yorkshire County Council, tells the Yorkshire Post about a meeting at Norton about fracking plans in the area.
Dutch minister confirms ban on drilling, shale gas “not an option“. Dutch News reports that the Netherlands economic affairs minister, Erik Wiebes, has confirmed to parliament that the Netherlands will not give out any permits for the exploration of shale gas. He says:
“Shale gas is not an option in the Netherlands any more. We are not doing it. It is over and done with.”
15 February 2018
Balcombe well test likely to come before Brockham, says Angus. DrillOrDrop report
Fracking Farmhouse – Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania. David Kestevens, chair of Eckington Against Fracking, talks about his support for other communities campaigning against the oil and gas industry.
Ignore the biased BBC – fracking is the future. The Conservative Woman reports the BBC, backed by Greenpeace, is continuing to mount a one-side crusade against shale gas development.
Dutch residents lose patience after years of tremors. The FT reports on calls to halt Groningen gas production as frequency and magnitude of quakes increase.
14 February 2018
Anti-drilling campaigner considers appeal over conviction for climbing on rig lorry. DrillOrDrop report on the verdict in the trial of West Sussex protester, Peter Whittick. See reports from the trial on 6 February 2018 here and here, BBC News, Mid Sussex Times, Chichester Observer
Why even a PR facelift might be too late for the frackers. David Powell, of the New Economics Foundation, writing in Business Green, says a tipping point in opposition to fracking could soon be reached.
Europa Oil bullish on Ireland despite ban threat. The Irish Examiner reports that Europa – one of the main international exploration companies active in Irish waters – remains excited and confident about realising its asset potential, despite last week’s vote in the Dail in favour of a ban on drilling offshore.
Boris Johnson’s speech reaching out to Remainers: what he said and what he really meant. The Independent, and others, report on Boris Johnson’s Brexit speech, including his comment on environmental impact assessments, when he said:
“We might decide that it was indeed absolutely necessary for every environmental impact assessment to monitor two life cycles of the snail and build special swimming pools for newts – not all of which they use – but it would at least be our decision.”
13 February 2018
Campaigners call on Robin Hood in fight against fracking. DrillOrDrop report on Friends of the Earth roadshow of workshops, street theatre and parades against INEOS shale gas plans in East Midlands
A powerful mix of solar and batteries is beating natural gas. Energy Voice reports natural gas is getting edge out of power markets across the US by the “unbeatable” mix of solar and batteries.
Britain needs to embrace the shale energy revolution. Shale gas supporter, Matt Ridley, writing in The Times, makes the case for fracking, saying the Bowland Shale in northern England has a huge store “at a cost well below that of renewables and nuclear”. He says:
“A glance across the Atlantic shows what could be in store for Britain, and what we have missed out on so far because of obstacles put in place by mendacious pressure groups and timid bureaucrats.”
Fracking firm to meet public this weekend over Altcar Moss plans. The Visitor reports Aurora Resources is hosting a public meeting over its plans for drilling and fracking at Altcar Moss. The meeting is on Saturday 17 February, 12 noon to 6pm at Haskayne Village Hall.
Letters: Fracking epidemic to last for 100 years. Jon Snooking, of Eckington, writing in The Sheffield Telegraph, draws attention to comments by INEOS Shale’s chief executive, Ron Coyle, who said there was enough gas onshore to meet UK demands for over 100 years. He says: “INEOS is determined to bulldoze over local opinion”. What he calls the battle over INEOS plans at Marsh Lane in Derbyshire resume in four months at a public inquiry.
Fracking: The Wild West comes to the UK. TED Talk by David Smythe exposes how he says the fracking industry is both unprofitable and environmental damaging, as well as misleading to the public and not adequately regulated.
12 February 2018
The acid debate – what the Environment Agency says about the use of acid in oil and gas wells and how campaigners respond. DrillOrDrop report
UK to phase out diesel-only trains in UK by 2040. Reuters, following up a piece in the FT, says the rail minister, Jo Johnson, will call on the rail industry in a speech today to draw up plans to phase out diesel-only trains.
Forties closure takes major toll on UK production. Energy Voice reports the closure of the North Sea Forties pipeline in December caused the biggest monthly fall in output for UK production since 2012, according to data from the Office of National Statistics. Total production, month-on-month, dropped by 1.3%. It also revealed a widened trade deficit of £3.8bn to £10.8bn in the three months to December, with the drop in oil exports having the largest impact.
Groningen hit by another earthquake. NL Times reports that the province of Groningen was hit by another earthquake caused by gas extraction on Sunday afternoon. It had a magnitude of 2.2. The epicentre was Garrelsweer. This is the 14th seismic event so far this year in the Netherlands that registered on the Richter scale. All but one was related to gas extraction. The strongest, with a magnitude of 3.4, in Zeerijp, on 8 January 2018, prompted the NAM gas company to stop production in the Loppersum fields.
Researchers find fracking spurs bigger quakes at different depths. The Pittburgh Ppost-Gazette reports on research which suggests fracking-linked seismic disturbances originate at different geological depths and that deeper events pose greater risks. The study (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) suggests stopping fracking temporarily may help head off more intense quakes once they have started.
OPEC President says shale surge won’t thwart plan to clear glut. Bloomberg reports comments by OPEC president, Suhail Al Mazrouei, that surging out of US shale oil won’t be a “huge distorter” of efforts by global crude producers to clear a glut. The market should re-balance this year, he says, given robust demand and producers’ compliance with pledges to curtail supply.
Oil price rally skids into reverse as US shale returns. The Telegraph reports the global Brent crude benchmark fell below $64 a barrel on Monday after a three year high of $70 last month. It could fall further, the paper reports, as hedge funds begin to cut their bets that the rally will continue.
Lorry surfing protest at Preston New Road. Opponents of Cuadrilla’s plans to frack at Preston New Road near Blackpool report a protester has climbed on top of a delivery lorry. The protester stayed overnight before coming down from the lorry.
11 February 2018
Secret UK government report lowers fracking expectations. Unearthed, the investigations arm of Greenpeace, says an unreleased Cabinet Office Implementation Unit Report on Shale Gas predicts approximately 17 unconventional oil and gas sites in England and Wales by 2020 and 30-35 to 2022. The report estimates around 155 wells by 2025. This compares with around 4,000 wells by 2032 predicted by the Institute of Directors in 2013. DrillOrDrop report, Telegraph, Independent, Refracktion, Carbon Brief (12/1/2018), Business Green (12/1/2018), Blackpool Gazette (12/1/2018)
What’s happening this week? DrillOrDrop diary of events about UK fracking, onshore oil and gas and campaigns.
The Queen declares war on plastic after David Attenborough documentary. The Telegraph reports the Queen has declared war on plastic, banning straws and bottles from the Royal estates. The paper says it is thought that the Queen became personally interested in the problem of plastic after working with Sir David Attenborough on a conservation documentary dealing with wildlife in the Commonwealth.
Frack Free United reports another full hall for its INEOS, Fracking and You talks. Today’s talk is in Helmsley.
Lack of women in energy ‘holding back fight against climate change’. The Guardian reports comments by Catherine Mitchell, professor of energy policy at Exeter University, who says the lack of women in energy companies is holding back the sector’s efforts to tackle climate change. She tells the paper poor gender diversity means the industry is less open to new ideas, in particular the move to a lower-carbon energy system.
The Northern Greenhouse – a new vision of the North. The Salford Star reports on a new book by local ecologist, James Walsh, which looks at the potential of the green economy in the north. He tells the website:
“The environment of the North of England is under attack from property developers, frackers and huge corporations.
“When you look at the plans for the Northern Powerhouse there seems to be no consideration whatsoever for climate change and the environment.”
The US added 38% more oil and gas rigs last year. DeSmog reports on S&P Global Platt Analytics which said the US had 1,070 rigs at the end of January, up from 773 a year earlier. All but one region gained new rigs. The fastest growth was in the Permian Basin. Texas gained 141 rigs and New Mexico 43. The US Energy Information Administration forecast US oil production would pass 11 million barrels a day by the endj of 2018.
10 February 2018
Weekend long read: Social licence is dead – let’s resurrect it. Alan Tootill writes for DrillOrDrop about how oil and gas companies have abandoned the idea of social licence for fracking and explores how campaigners against the industry could this use to their advantage.
Carillion links put fracking firm’s scheme in doubt. The Guardian picks up the connection between Third Energy and Carillion through Ken Cochrane. He is a director of a Third Energy company and formerly Carillion’s chief executive. Third Energy’s financial resilience is currently being investigated.
We need reliable facts on fracking risks. Garry Vickers, writing in the Yorkshire Post, says “It is the unknown that everyone worries about, and there is no excuse for not giving us facts from America”. Jane Marsh, writing to the same paper, says “The Government was totally wrong to overrule local councils on fracking exploration.”
Jeremy Corbyn vows to tackle “climate catastrophe” by putting energy system in public hands. The Independent reports on a speech in London by the Labour leader, and adds that the party has also pledged to ban fracking.
9 February 2018
New call for block on fracking at Third Energy’s KM8 site. DrillOrDrop’s review of MPs questions and speeches in Fracking Week in Parliament
Cuadrilla’s planned fracking stages in Lancashire. Cuadrilla’s technical director, Mark Lappin, answering a question from webcast viewers, said the company would do about 40 fracking stages for each horizontal well at its Preston New Road site.
Angus Energy raises £2m through private placement. Angus Energy announces it has raised the money through issuing more than 33 million shares at 6p per placing share. This is a 27% discount on last night’s closing price. Four months ago, the share price was 37p. Angus said it now has a market capitalisation of £17.9m. The money would contribute funding to the acquisition of a 25% in the Balcombe licence in West Sussex and operation costs. Proactive Investors
Oil dips to near 2-month low on supply concerns. The FT reports that oil prices were heading to their worst level in nearly two months amid rising investor concern about market oversupply. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was down 0.7% at $64.38 a barrel, on track for its lowest close on 19 December.
Onshore oil and gas licensing powers handed to Holyrood. Energy Voice reports that the Scotland Act 2016 is transferring power over onshore oil and gas licensing to the Scottish Government.
Cher lends her voice to oil drilling protesters. The Times reports that Cher has backed a campaign to ban drilling for oil and gas in Ireland.
Fracking campaigners take hope from decision to block test drilling near Worksop. The Nottingham Post reports on the decision on 5 February by Derbyshire County Council to oppose INEOS plans for shale drilling at Marsh Lane.
UKOG loan conversion. UK Oil and Gas Investments Plc reports that investors Cuart Investments PCC ltd and YA II PN Ltd are to convert part of the loan, worth £500,000 into equity – 18,779,343 shares.
8 February 2018
Third Energy seeks to extend consent for gas pipeline – campaigners fear it is not “fit for purpose”. DrillOrDrop report
Caroline Lucas urges Business Secretary not to approve fracking at KM8 during Environment Agency investigation on increased methane levels. DrillOrDrop Fracking Week in Parliament
YP Letters: No excuse not to know about fracking now. John Plummer, writing to the Yorkshire Post, says the paper has removed the excuse of many people in opinion polls that they don’t know enough about fracking to express an opinion. He also tells local MP Kevin Hollinrake he is expected to defend his constituency’s core identity and not put his own career chances above that.
YP Letters: Protesters should try to minimise disruption. Rachael Sherbourne, writing in the Yorkshire Post, supports protesters outside Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton fracking site. She adds:
“I implore anti-fracking activists on the front line at the well site in Kirby Misperton to act in a conscientious manner so as to avoid forging animosity between them and the residents of Kirby Misperton.”
Slow walk protests hold up vehicles in Kirby Misperton. North Yorkshire Police reports that protesters took part in two slow walks in front of vehicles at Third Energy’s KM8 fracking site. Northern Echo, York Press (9/2/2018)
INEOS to restart Forties after pipeline shuts yet again. Energy Voice reports INEOS said it intended to re-open the Forties pipeline overnight after it shut for the second time in recent months. Flows were halted on the morning of 7 February when a feed control valve closed at its Kinneil facility near Grangemouth, the company said. The pipeline was closed for about three weeks in December because of a crack near Netherley, south of Aberdeen. The 235-mile pipeline links 80+ North Sea fields to the mainland and Grangemouth.
The wider electoral advantages of the Green Party’s opposition to fracking. Ashley Dodsworth, writing on the LSE British Politics and Policy blog, says the Greens are using opposition to fracking to distinguish themselves in a crowded political landscape and appeal to their base and new voters.
7 February 2018
N Yorks MP and fracking expert to debate whether UK regulation can make fracking safe. DrillOrDrop report
IGas update: Nottinghamshire, Cheshire, Surrey. DrillOrDrop report on IGas plans
Caroline Lucas MP asks what criteria will be used to assess Third Energy’s financial resilience. DrillOrDrop Fracking Week in Parliament
Lee Rowley MP says local voices must be heard when large-scale and often unwanted developments go through the planning system. DrillOrDrop Fracking Week in Parliament
Fracking is linked to breast cancer: chemicals used in high-pressure oil and gas extraction cause uncontrolled cell division. Mail Online reports on a study by the University of Massachusetts which exposed pregnant mice to one of four doses of 23 chemicals commonly used in fracking. The two lowest doses were equivalent to levels found in drinking water from drilled areas. The findings, in the journal Endocrinology, showed that breast tissue in early adults experienced excessive layers of cells that grow at a rapid rate.
Exclusive: BP spurred on by positive momentum in quest to double North Sea output. Energy Voice reports comments by Mark Thomas, BP’s North Sea regional president, that the company could deliver 200,000 barrels of oil per day by 202, double what it managed in 2015.
UK oilfield services sector ‘back from the brink’ after 15% drop in turnover. Energy Voice reports that turnover for the sector dropped for the second year in a row in 2016 – the last year for which results were available – to £30.2bn, down from £35.7bn in 2015.
YP Letters: Fracking industry would lay waste to our countryside. Yvonne Ward, writing to the Yorkshire Post, says she was until recently ambivalent about fracking but since she carried out independent research is now “very much against it”. Her reasons include industrialisation of the countryside. Brian Appleby, in the same paper, raises concerns about climate change. Mike Smethurst asks whether the risk of shale gas extraction outweigh the benefits.
Cases adjourned. The Blackpool Gazette reports that three people alleged to have taken part in a lock-on protest at Hillhouse Business Park at Thornton in May last year had their cases adjourned until 19 February 2018.
The Fracking Farmhouse – celebrating our first win. David Kestevens talks about the Derbyshire County Council Planning Committee win, offers advice to other anti fracking groups and takes time to celebrate
6 February 2018
Third Energy releases equipment from fracking site because review of financial resilience “delays final consent”. DrillOrDrop report, Mail Online, ITV News, Yorkshire Post, Gazette and Herald, York Press (7/2/2018)
Protester who climbed on top of a rig lorry tells court the delivery breached planning conditions DrillOrDrop report and Fossil fuel campaigner climbed on oil rig lorry as an act of conscience, court told. DrillOrDrop report, BBC News
Broadford Bridge flow testing due to end this month. UK Oil & Gas Investments PLC announces this morning that flow testing at its Broadford Bridge sidetrack oil well BB-1Z
in licence PEDL234, is now expected during February 2018. Proactive Investors
BP profits surge as oil major leaves downturn behind. Reuters reports on BP’s profits doubling in 2017 to $6.2bn, powered by higher prices and output of oil and gas.
Oil majors to face London, New York hearings over Philippines climate impact. Climate Home News reports that the Philippines human rights commissioner says taking hearings overseas will give best chance to hold 47 oil companies accountable for the impacts of their business.
YP Letters: Fracking campaigners come from all walks of life. Cllr Di Keal, writing to the Yorkshire Post, responds to a letter which accused fracking opponents of being nimbys. She describes opponents as:
“a broad church of campaigners from all walks of life, many of whom have never waved a placard before in their lives, but who feel so strongly that they are devoting many hours to the frontline against fracking”.
Edinburgh University divests from all fossil fuels. The Guardian reports Edinburgh has become the largest UK university endowment fund to be completely free of all coal, oil or gas holdings. The fund is the UK’s third largest, behind Oxford and Cambridge. More than 60 UK universities have now divested from fossil fuels, with Sussex being the latest.
Fracking meeting turns people away. Too many people turned up for the first of a series of Fracking, INEOS and you meetings that some had to be turned away. The meeting was organised by local anti-fracking groups and Frack Free United. The York Press (7/2/2018)
5 February 2018
Breaking: Derbyshire councillors vote to oppose INEOS plans for shale gas exploration at Bramleymoor Lane. DrillOrDrop live updates from the planning meeting. Yorkshire Post and follow-up Yorkshire Post article (7/2/2018), Energy Live News (8/2/2018), Derbyshire Telegraph (11/2/2018), Planning Resource (12/1/2018)
Fourth shale gas plan opposed in a fortnight as Derbyshire councillors vote against INEOS scheme at Marsh Lane. DrillOrDrop report
Fracking safety fears for former coal-mining areas of Yorkshire taken to Government regulator. The Yorkshire Post reports that the Rother Valley MP, Kevin Barron has met the Oil and Gas Authority about fracking in former mining areas.
Police to ask for fracking funding support ‘soon’ – pcc. The York Press reports police in North Yorkshire will soon appeal to the government for money to cover the cost of policing fracking protests.
4 February 2018
What’s happening this week? 5-11 February 2018. 24 events about UK fracking and onshore oil and gas in DrillOrDrop’s weekly diary.
3 February 2018
Weekend Long Read: For all its faults fracking is not the issue here …. In the first of an occasional series of long reads for DrillorDrop, Paul Mobbs reflects that the real struggle on fracking is little about regulation or technology but the failure of national political dialogue.
Fracking police costs ‘should be met nationally‘. In the latest of a week of articles on fracking, the Yorkshire Post talks to Kevin Hollinrake about policing costs at protests in Kirby Misperton.
YP Letters: Local anger at Kirby Misperton fracking camp. Graham Marshall writes to the Yorkshire Post saying “there are hundreds of local people in Ryedale outraged at the antics of the tiny minority of eco-extremists that have invaded Kirby Misperton”. The paper also has letters from a resident at the camp, Michelle Easton, and three other critics of fracking.
Watch key fracking meeting online. The Derbyshire Times reports that the county council meeting on INEOS plans for shale gas exploration at Marsh Lane will be webcast at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/bramleymoorlane The meeting starts at 1pm at the county council offices in Matlock. A shuttle bus will run from near the railway station to county hall.
Fracking meeting. The Gazette and Herald reports that Appleton-Le-Moors has formed a parish council sub-committee on fracking.
2 February 2018
Chris Bond: Will region’s house prices pay the cost of fracking? As part of the Yorkshire Post week of reports on fracking, Chris Bond asks “would you pay the same amount for a house next to a fracking drill pad as you would for a carbon copy that isn’t?”
Why I’m supporting fracking in Yorkshire – by North Yorkshire MP Kevin Hollinrake. Mr Hollinrake, writing in the Yorkshire Post, explains his support for local shale gas extraction.
North Yorkshire plan to add extra hurdles for fracking applications. The Yorkshire Post talks to Richard Flinton, chief executive of North Yorkshire County Council, about the proposals in the North Yorkshire joint minerals and waste plan.
Lateral fracking is not welcome beneath the North York Moors. The Yorkshire Post reports comments by the director of planning at the North York Moors National Park Authority who says fracking is “incompatible” with protected landscapes and they should be the very last targets for lateral fracking. Chris France said of the drilling lateral wells from the edge of the park:
“It’s industrial development which will have a significant environmental impact in a sensitive landscape including the visual of the drilling rigs associated with it, and we are not just talking about one, but potentially several on the edge of the Moors. People have spoken about a ring of steel around the park’s boundary.
“The national park is the last place they should be looking to frack, not the first.”
The Yorkshire Post says: Fracking focus. A breakdown of public trust. The Yorkshire Post raises concerns about INEOS plans to drill under the North York Moors. It says the area should be spared from “any inappropriate developments” and INEOS should be working with local communities to win support and trust, rather than keeping residents in the dark. It calls for protocols to require fracking firms to engage with communities.
Over 3,000 objections to fracking exploration plans at Marsh Lane. The Yorkshire Post reports on next Monday’s meeting at which Derbyshire County Council will decide its view on INEOS plans for shale gas exploration at Marsh Lane.
YP Letters: Fracking the countryside is against majority will. More letters about fracking in the Yorkshire Post
Frack-free to host meetings. The Gazette and Herald reports on plans for meetings across Yorkshire about INEOS shale gas plans. See also DrillOrDrop report of 27/1/2018.
1 February 2018
Drilling diary – February 2018. DrillOrDrop diary of 50+ events in February about fracking, onshore oil and gas and campaign activity.
Landmark fracking inquiries for Rotherham and outskirts of Sheffield to begin preliminary hearings within weeks. The Yorkshire Post, in its week of articles about fracking, looks at forthcoming inquiries on INEOS plans at Harthill and Bramleymoor Lane. The paper also has a report on next week’s Derbyshire County Council on Bramleymoor Lane. Rotherham Politics
YP Letters: A Kirby Misperton resident’s defence of fracking protests. Hazel Winter, who lives on Main Street in Kirby Misperton, tells the Yorkshire Post that fracking, even if it finds viable gas is not a “fair experiment of risk”. She says:
“It would rubber-stamp the industry without a true reflection of impact. What is not measurable is the effect on the cohesiveness of my village caused by so much conflict. Whatever the outcome here, it will take a long time for those rifts to heal, if they ever do.”
Expert says Lancaster is next on fracking list. The Lancaster Guardian previews a talk by chartered engineer, Mike Hill, at Lancaster Town Hall on 6 February 2018. He tells the paper Lancaster could expect to have approximately 500 fracking wells if Cuadrilla is able to extract commercial quantities of gas at Preston New Road.
Lancashire fracking security guard denies assault charge. The Lancashire Evening Post reports that a trial of a security guard at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site has been adjourned. The guard is accused of criminal damage and assaulting a protester. The case will be heard at Preston Magistrates Court on 17-18 May.
Categories: Daily headlines