The fracking company Third Energy is seeking to extend planning permission for a gas pipeline, which campaigners say is potentially unsafe.
The company posted a notice yesterday which said it would be submitting a planning application to continue the life of the pipeline which connects a gas-fired power station to six well sites in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire.
The pipeline would also carry fracked gas from Third Energy’s site at Kirby Misperton if hydraulic fracturing consent were granted by the Government.
Last month, the campaign group, Frack Free Ryedale, threatened an injunction against fracking at Kirby Misperton because it said the pipeline would be operating beyond its designed life. (DrillOrDrop report)
The pipeline was constructed in 1994 with a design life of 15 years for carrying gas which contained hydrogen sulphide.
Third Energy extended the design life in 2010 and the pipeline was re-validated for another 14 years until 2024.
Since then the company has said it intended to use the pipeline for a further 20 years to carry fracked gas. This would take the use to 2038. Third Energy also said it was continuing to invest in its Ryedale fields, where gas is currently being extracted using conventional techniques.
The company said:
“As part of our normal course of business we have initiated the established process for extending a range of our existing permissions for the Vale of Pickering well sites and pipelines and the Knapton Generating Station through until 2035.”
Third Energy confirmed that it wanted to extend the planning consent until 2035 for both the pipeline and the sites (Kirby Misperton A and B, Malton A and B, Pickering and Marishes). Documents suggest that the current planning permission for the pipeline expires in May this year. DrillOrDrop asked Third Energy to confirm this but has not received a response.
The company has said it would also ask the government to extend the life of the gas-powered Knapton Generating Station.
Pipeline legal action
Last month, Frack Free Ryedale, through its solicitor, Leigh Day, said that fracking at Kirby Misperton’s KM8 well should not go ahead without official monitoring of the pipeline and testing of the target rock formation for hydrogen sulphide (H2S).
In a letter to the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, it said:
“If fracking commences in 2018, then the expected production of gas potentially containing H2S exceeds the pipeline’s initial design life by 29 years (2009-2038), approximately 200% over its designed operating period.”
Third Energy said the pipeline was fully compliant with the Pipeline Regulations and Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000. In response to Frack Free Ryedale, it said it regularly inspected the pipeline internally, at ground level and from the air.
Since then, Russell Scott, a campaigner with Frack Free Ryedale, asked Third Energy for evidence of these inspections.
Yesterday, the company replied:
“In light of your role at Frack Free Ryedale in the matter of potential legal action against the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, as set out in letter sent by Leigh Day on behalf of Frack Free Ryedale on 24 January 2018, Third Energy will not be answering your questions.”
This reply coincided with the publication of a newspaper notice from Third Energy about its plans.
The company said it was “seeking to consult with the public” on the pipeline time extension before it submitted a planning application.
In a letter to a parish council, the company said it would be “pleased to answer any questions you may have or provide further information”.
It gave the email address email@example.com
Mr Scott said:
“Third Energy repeatedly tell our community that their gas pipeline is safe and maintained adequately – yet have refused to answer any questions or provide sufficient evidence to prove this is the case.
“Why do Third Energy continue to avoid answering our requests? This is leading us to the conclusion that they haven’t got to grips with their own pipeline management procedures or have something to hide.
“The ageing pipeline has already experienced leaks at Third’s Pickering and Malton sites and we are concerned that the pipeline is no longer fit for purpose.
“It is simply not acceptable for the Secretary of State to allow Third Energy to proceed with fracking at Kirby Misperton. Third Energy intend to use a pipeline which is no longer fit for purpose to carry unknown levels of potentially lethal and highly toxic H2S gas through our communities – this cannot be allowed to happen. The Ryedale community deserves better.”
- Third Energy’s newspaper notice said it was not seeking to amend the planning consent for the KM-8 well, which it wants to frack. This runs until 2026.