Live news updates from Pickering debate on fracking regulation: MP vs the engineer

Live updates from the debate between Thirsk and Malton MP, Kevin Hollinrake, and oil and gas industry engineer, Mike Hill.

Mr Hollinrake (left) is proposing the motion: This house believes that UK regulations make fracking safe”. Mr Hill (right) puts the case against. The chair is the Right Reverend James Jones. formerly Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop of Hull and chair of the the Hillsborough Panel supervising disclosure of documents relating to the football stadium disaster.

The two-hour debate has been organised by Kirkbymoorside Town Council and aims to inform councillors and citizens about fracking. It comes as Third Energy, which wants to frack the local KM8 well at Kirby Misperton, has said the operation will be delayed until the autumn (see DrillOrDrop report).

Reporting from the debate has been made possible by donations from individual DrillOrDrop readers.


8.53pm: Vote on the motion

Bishop James puts the motion to the audience. It is overwhelmingly lost.

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Vote against the motion. Photo: Eddie Thornton

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Vote against the motion. Photo: DrillOrDrop

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Votes for the motion. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Bishop James Jones says:

“People responsible for regulation nationally and locally need to take note.”

8.39pm: Panel summing up – Mike Hill

Mr Hill says there are now 800 studies coming out of the US which predict deaths. One of them says fracking causes cancer. That causes death, he says.

The EA has not fully implemented regulations, he says. You are not independent of the operators if you take money from them, he says.

It is self-regulated with a woeful inspection strategy, a civil servant, says, Mr Hill reports.

The UK has a good record offshore, Mr Hill says. Onshore: only one well has been fracked onshore and that had problems.

On goal setting, Mr Hills says the words were from the HSE not from me.

On chemicals, Mr  Hill says what comes back is more important than what goes down.

It is insulting to say that fracking is no big deal, he says. It will be a very big deal for the farming industry.

People may be prepared to move out of their homes if there is an emergency. People need to know what the evacuation policy is. You can’t be serious to rely on a telephone tree, Mr Hill says.

On the issue of previous concerns, you haven’t lived through this before, Mr Hill says. There has been only one high volume hydraulically fracked well at Preese Hall.

To say let’s have a cautious start, not with my family’s health you don’t.

The audience has weaknesses with the system. On the pro-side it shows that they are not listening to you, he says.

Shale gas is a bridge to nowhere. It is a bridge to nowhere. Fugitive emissions are running at 9% in the US on average. If you care about the planet, you should burn coal with fugitive emissions from shale gas above 4%. I know it is a lie to say it is a bridge to a low carbon future.

A government report says we are secure without shale gas for the next two decades, Mr Hill. Government figures show imports from Russia and some other countries is 3%. This is scaremongering, he says.

To get a small amount of gas out of the ground will need thousands of wells. This is not conventional gas. This is like getting gas out of a balloon. Shale gas is like getting gas out of granite. The permeabilities are so low. Richard Davies from ReFine says something are very similar.

On jobs, the Institute of Directors said 64,000 jobs could be created from shale gas. They were very blissful. It is likely to be 15,000 at the height of fracking if we let them drill thousands of wells. Set that against job losses in farming, food and tourism.

What price your health and that of your children’s. Fracking will leave vast quantities of toxic waste underground. This dwarfs plastic pollution. Is this the legacy we want to leave our children and grandchildren. Are you happiest that people will think of our generation as the dirtiest ever?


Photo: DrillOrDrop

8.24pm: Panel summing up – Kevin Hollinrake MP

Mr Hollinrake recommends people should put their faith in engineers who wrote the Royal Society report.

I have lived here all my life, there is no way in the world, I would take an irresponsible risk and put the lives of my family in jeopardy, he says.

I have a concern about the capacity to regulate at scale. But we have one well and that well won’t be fracked until October. The roll-out will be very slow, he says, because of the regulation and planning.

The key issue is what enters the water courses and the air and affects the seismicity. If materials do not enter these channels then we are not at risk. H2S is not to do with fracking, it is conventional gas.

We import 45% of our gas now, 70% by 2030. Our energy security is important. We have taken LNG from Russia. Centrica has signed a gas contract taking 9% of our gas by 2021. We also import from Qatar and Norway. There is an energy security issue that we need to solve.

Well density is being considered in the minerals plan for North Yorkshire. If the inspector does not support that, I will not support it. I think there should be national limits.

At the moment, we are guessing about is this worthwhile. We should take a cautious step forward.

Is INEOS going to buy their way into the government. I am not the government, he says. I am not for sale, nor would I ever be. I want to make things better, not for personal gain.

I do not believe there will be devastation. There have been various studies on the impact of fracking that have found no evidence of water contamination. Every US presidential candidate, except Bernie Sanders, supported shale gas continuation. Do we really believe the US president would support something damaging?

The water problems in the US were in one town. It is contested what happened. I am willing it could have been poor practice. I do not believe it would happen in the UK.

In the UK, the producer would pick up the tab if there was contamination. If they went bust, there is a producer fund.

Government overruling local decisions is how planning works. Local decisions have to meet national policy. In Lancashire, planners had recommended approval. You cannot isolate national from local need, either as a parliamentarian or local council.

The decision  on fracking was taken in parliament. He says there is a shale gas licence in his village.

If producers don’t meet their obligations, should they be fined or shut down, Mr Hollinrake asks. Absolutely he says.

We should move away plastics, But most of us use plastics in our lives. If there is no demand, there will be no plastics.

Ethane for plastic is from 0-20% of what comes out of the ground. The rest goes into the commercial market.

On Scotland, Mr Hollinrake says the decision had more to do with politics than science.

On sustainable development, Mr Hollinrake says the UK is pushing ahead with renewables. We are phasing out coal probably by 2020. The reality is that only 15% is from renewables. Fossil fuels will remain in the mix for several decades. Gas is the cleanest fossil fuel.

We need to look at the science. We have monitoring going on. It looks air, water and seismicity. If it can’t be regulated, I will be the first to call for a moratorium.

8.22pm: Speaker against the motion

The speaker asks about sustainable development. One of the key principals, supported by all political parties, is the precautionary principal. We may not need to take the risk of shale gas fracking. The scope of renewable energy and energy conservation are growing. Why do we need to take the risk. It is against the precautionary principal. It breaches our sustainability agenda.

8.21pm: Speaker against the motion

The speaker asks if the regulations are so robust, why has Scotland, Ireland and Wales said no to fracking.

8.18pm: Speaker for the motion – Alan Linn, Third Energy

Alan Linn, of Third Energy, is given the chance to speak again. There is no difference in the gas, whether it is fracked or not. The fracked gas is deeper. The conventional gas contains H2S, it always has, he says. We also know the fracked gas has zero H2S.W

I have worked in the industry for many years, he says, including the US. The regulations in the UK are the strictest. It is our intention to be a good neighbour. It is not our intention to blow Ryedale up. That is the worst thing we could do. Doing things unsafely is not sustainable. We want to do things safely.

Everyone on site at Kirby Misperton wears an H2S detector. The concerns can be put to rest.

8.16pm: Speaker against the motion

The speaker says the greatest regulation is paying for mistakes. The government of Pennsylvania told us last year the average fine against violations was about $5,000. A third of the active wells had problems and no-one was being punished.

The speaker also says the people who bought licences in the Pickering area want the gas to make plastics – not for home heating. There is no shortage of plastic, the speaker says.

8.13pm: Speaker against the motion

The speaker welcomes the debate. But he says actions matter more than words. He says the Bishop said the debate was evidence of local democracy. Tell that to the people who were overruled by the Conservative government, he says.

The speaker says he was more impressed by Mr Hill.. There is evidence across the world, he says, of the dangers of fracking. He asks how do you regulate a well 1km underground. You cannot regulate what is going on underground at that depth.

He says Mr Hollinrake’s presentation is weak – if we are to rely on that it is a none starter.

8.11pm: Speaker for the motion- Sir James Bevan, Environment Agency

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Sir James Bevan. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Sir James Bevan says he as been to Preston New Road and talked to communities. I don’t think it is fair to accuse us of being absent. People working for the agency in Lancashire are passionate about the environment. They are absolutely committed to protecting the environment they serve.

8.10pm: Speaker against the motion – Gayzer Frackman

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Photo: DrillOrDrop

Gayzer Frackman says he has witnessed in Lancashire at Preston New Road a lack of enforcement, breaches on an almost daily basis.

We have no faith in the Environment Agency or the HSE because at Preston New Road you are proven to be ineffective, he says. My community bear witness.

The EA nor the HSE did not attend the public inquiry on Preston New Road. Will you turn up at the Roseacre Wood inquiry to answer questions about our supposed regulators, he asks.

8.09pm: Speaker against the motion

The speaker asks what regulation can the government put in place as insurance in perpetuity for protection against problems.

8.07pm: Speaker for the motion- Tony Almond, HSE

Tony Almond is invited to speak again to defend the HSE. He says the goals are set in the health and safety regulations. One of the key one is no unregulated releases. When we have talked about regulations, we have talked about the agencies. We haven’t talked about how the regulators work together. The EA and HSE has had a working together agreement since 2012.

8.05pm: Speaker against the motion – David Lloyd Williams

Former county councillor, Mr Lloyd Williams, says the regulation of the conventional industry was as good as it could be. When something goes wrong, when there is an accident, what regulator can prevent what happen underground. Can this house really support the regulation we asked tonight, I fear not, he says.

8.04pm: Speaker for the motion

The speaker says the debate has not discussed the good that would come from fracking and the benefits to the economy. The US shale industry meant everyone was better off and no-one suffered.

The regulations sound extremely good, he says.

8.03pm: Speaker against the motion

The speaker says fracking is indisputably unsafe so regulation cannot make it safe. Who would go to prison if fracking when something goes wrong, he asks.

8.01pm: Speaker for the motion – Sir James Bevan, Environment Agency

Sir James Began is given another two minutes to address criticism. He says he doesn’t recognise the alleged failings of the EA. If there were an expansion of fracking, I am confident my agency would be able to robustly regulate the industry, he says. This is because he cares about regulating and because the funding would come from permit funds.

7.59pm: Speaker against the motion

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Photo: DrillOrDrop

The campaign 20 years ago against the generating station was nothing compared with what INEOS will bring to North Yorkshire, the speaker says.

INEOS is a big company. We need to be aware what the government is allowing to happen. If Kevin Hollinrake has any influence he needs to make sure we are not sold down the river. We have to stop thinking that this is like the generating station. Ordinary gas is one thing. Shale gas is another matter.

7.58pm: Speaker in favour of the motion

The speaker said he remembered concerns that turned out to be unfounded about the generating station. I think this may happen again, he says. There is a case for doing an exploration well, to make the evidence, to allow people to make conclusions. At the moment we are all guessing.

7.56pm: Speaker against the motion

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Photo: DrillOrDrop

The speaker says there is no legislation that require a distance between homes and shale gas sites or a maximum limit on the density of well pads.

The speaker adds that the operator of a UK oil well, monitored by the EA, did not carry out baseline checks and yet still received an environmental permit.

7.54pm: Speaker in favour of the motion – Lorraine Allanson

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Lorraine Allanson. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Ms Allanson says everyone has survived the scares of hydrogen sulphide at the Knapton Generator Station. She says there have been zero deaths from fracking, despite more than 2 milliion frack jobs.

30,000 people die from fuel poverty. Seven people an hour died from fuel poverty in the previous cold spell. It is a disgrace that these people cannot afford to live, she says. How are we going to look after those people. How do you regulator for fuel poverty.

7.50pm: Speaker against the motion

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Photo: DrillOrDrop

The speaker says she has been examining regulations at Kirby Misperton and other sites. Hydrogen sulphide gas has leaked from this site twice. The EA has one monitor on the Kirby Misperton site. The reason the EA could not detect hydrogen sulphide because the wind was blowing in the wrong direction. How is that gold standard regulation, she asks.

She says she has been in touch with 10 agencies about emergency evacuation plans. She is still waiting, after 2 months of asking. Third Energy says it has a telephone tree. Is that gold standard regulation, she asks.

The fire service has no scope to deal with unexploded gas. The fire service have a very small number people who will be able bring out staff on the site and the local community. What is the plan for Third Energy in the event of a hydrogen sulphide gas leak? What is the explanation for the leaks.

7.48pm: Speaker in favour of the motion- Alan Linn, chief operating officer of Third Energy

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Alan Linn, chief operating officer for Third Energy. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Mr Linn says biocides are not used in fracking. They are used in other parts of business but not in fracking. What we use in fracking are chemicals that are safe for human consumption, he says.

The regulations are very, very strong, he says.

Another set of regulation introduced by the government to check everything. We do not mark our own homework. They don’t always let us know they are coming. We have been operating in the Vale of Pickering for 20 years. Fracking is not a big deal.

7.45pm: Speaker against the motion – Roderick Robinson

Mr Robinson says he has been working for 40 years on pesticides. He has worked with the EA. I have a severe problem with fracking because of real legal issues. It has a risk of breaking the law. He is prevented by law from applying biocides to fractured geology. Why is the fracking industry allowed to do this, he asks.

Triocene, a biocides, is planned for Third Energy’s well. Mr Robinson said he did research on this and it has been banned. Another chemical is registered as a lubricant when it is a biocide. How do the regulators work with the situation in which the companies are breaking the law.

7.44pm: Speaker in favour of the motion – Tony Almond, Health and Safety Executive

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Tony Almond. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Mr Almond says experienced engineers regulate on and offshore wells. We have a strong regulatory regime. Read about all of the regime, he says.

7.42pm: Speaker against the motion

The speaker says it comes down to a matter of trust. If I have to choose between a politican and a chartered engineer it is no contest.

The best regulations in the world are useless unless they can be checked. Is the government capable of ensuring that checking can be done. In my view it is not. We will have to rely on self regulation and look what happened with the banks.

7.40pm: Speaker in favour of the motion – James Bevan, Environment Agency chief executive

Mr Bevan says regulation for fracking is safe. If you want to frack you have to show it will not affect soil, air, water, wildlife. If you can’t you will not be allowed to frack, he says.

We will monitor and check, he says. We do not allow people to mark their own homework. We have done 15 inspections of the Kirby Misperton site. If people do not abide by the conditions, they will be required to put things right.

I believe frackng regulation is safe is because of the people who work for the Environment Agency

What motivates them is the desire to keep people safe.

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Photo: DrillOrDrop

7.38: Bishop Jones

Bishop Jones asks people to say who wants to comment or ask a question.

Around 20 people raise their hands.

7.21pm: Presentation by Mike Hill

180308 Pickering 6Mr Hill, a chartered engineer, says he has no career interests in fracking. He says he has a duty to inform the debate and answer questions as honestly as he can. He urges people to verify facts and come to an opinion on the facts.

Mr Hill says the Royal Society report made 10 recommendations which he agrees with. Only one out of 10 had been implemented, he says. The government has accepted all 10 but that is not implementation.

The government is not listening, they overrule democracy, they smear whistleblowers and they push things through, Mr Hill says.

There will be deaths from this industry, he says. The Infrastructure Act made it easier to frack and not safer for the public.

Fracking is re-starting. Now is the time for action. The coulds, shoulds, have not happened.

We need an independent inspection strategy, Mr Hill says.

He quotes the Environment Agency that flowback fluid will be recycled. There will be no limits for the reuse of the flowback fluid, the EA says.

Analysis of the contents of flowback fluid from the Preese Hall well found contaminants at many times the level of safe drinking. That had not been recycled.

The EA gets the operator to mark their own homework and that is a conflict of interest, Mr Hill says. The EA at Preston New Road says there is no way for the fracking waste to get up to the aquifer.

Mr Hill fracking requires the drilling of thousands of boreholes. The only thing that prevents contamination of aquifers is well integrity.

The EA have minimal experience of fracking. They are behind the curve, Mr Hill says. They are reliant on residents to monitor, he adds.

So much for a robust Environment AGency.

The Health and sAfety Executive says the operators are responsible for managing risks and setting goals and that makes regulation robust, Mr Hill reports.

The HSE has made no unannounced visits to eight shale gas sites in Lancashire. The HSE has made two announced visits in 13 months.

The US has a much stricter regime than the UK. The HSE still relies on operators to mark their own homework. Well reports are faxed by the operator once a week, Mr Hill.

Damage to the Preese Hall well was not reported to the HSE, Mr Hill says, because it was not a notifiable incident. So much for a robust regime.

On the Oil and Gas Authority agreed it should have a strategy. It still in draft form. The onshore strategy should focus on viability, Mr Hill says. It should concentrate on safety, Mr Hill. It is an absolute disgrace, he says.

The Cullen Report into the Piper Alpha disaster recommended breaking the link between the industry and its cheerleader. There is a conflict of interest between the OGA and the industry, Mr Hill says.

The British Geological Survey is not a regulator, although it is referred to as one. The work in North Yorkshire study is not a baseline and is not a regulatory requirement. This is their own words, Mr Hill says.

The baseline in the Vale of Pickering, cannot be relied on.

Jobs: Mr Hills questions the estimate of 64,000. He asks how much gas is imported from Russia. He asks whether there is an evacuation plan.

In conclusion, he says, this is not robust regulation. The government’s arguments on regulation in tatters. This is putting people’s lives at risk.

7.04pm: Presentation by Kevin Hollinrake MP

180308 Pickering 4Kevin Hollinrake says fracking has been a key word in his life since being elected as the local MP.

He says there was cross-party support for fracking in a debate in the Infrastructure Act.

He says there are several regulatory agencies responsible for fracking: the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, mineral planning authority (North Yorkshire County Council) and the Oil and Gas Authority.

Mr Hollinrake says there are nine well pads in Ryedale and there have been decades of experience of oil and gas exploration.

There are permits that have to be met, he says, with limits on the depth of fracking, rules on casings, what chemicals can be used (which have to be disclosed), disposal of waste water.

There are national regulations on air and water quality and seismicity before shale gas exploration can start.

Mr Hollinrake says he is not a scientist but it is important that we look at the science. The scientists say it is quite clear that this can be done safely.

The Environment Agency said “We believe the Environment Agency has the right regulatiory controls to regulate the sector”.

The Royal Society report of 2012 said shale gas can be operated safely if best practices are enforced through regulation, Mr Hollinrake.

A book from the British Geological Survey says “if scientists are listened to and the results are there to see we get the best of both worlds”.

A report for the Scottish Government says the regulatory framework is in place.

Mr Hollinrake says if we cannot carry out this operation in a way that protects the environment I would be the first to oppose it.

“I have tried to make sense of all the different arguments. I have not simply taken the government line.

“I have also fought for additional protections”.

Mr Hollinrake says fracking must be compatible with the beauty of Ryedale and its industries.

He describes how he went to shale gas areas in Pennsylvania. He says the industry in the US got ahead of the regulators at the beginning. Where things went wrong was because the regulations were not in place.

He says he has written a report, posted on his website, which looks at every single aspect of fracking, allowing readers to experience what he saw and heard.

Looking at everything we saw in Pennsylvania convinced us that we could regulate fracking safely, Mr Hollinrake says.

Open ponds allowed in the US would not be allowed in the UK. In the US, fracking is allowed at any depth. The minimum is 1km in the UK. We don’t allow reinjection of waste water. There is no maximum proliferation of wellpads in the US. You could see them every hundred yards, Mr Hollinrake says.

In the UK, I have championed independent monitoring by the BGS at Kirby Misperton. Ryedale will not look like Texas, Mr Hollinrake. We have a maximum of 10 for every 100 square km. One well pad every three miles is what we have now. We will not see industrialisation of Ryedale.

I believe it is safe. I have an open mind. If my position changes I would be the first to say this should not happen in Ryedale.

7pm: Sell-out debate begins

The chair of the debate, Bishop James Jones, congratulates Kirbymoorside Town Council on putting on the debate. He says it shows that local democracy is not dead.

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6.45pm: Hall almost full

Almost a full house with 15 minutes to go before the start.

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Photo: DrillOrDrop

6.30pm: People beginning to arrive at the debate

Half an hour before the debate, at Lady Lumley School in Pickering, the audience begins to arrive.

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Photo: DrillOrDrio

Reporting from this event was made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers.

70 replies »

  1. I thought the issue was that it was a good, balanced debate with people taking part having direct experience?

    It was the antis whinging about imbalance. (refracktion and KatT leading.)

    If your fellows let you down, don’t be surprised someone points it out. But, I’m sure they will be pleased with your sticking plaster attempt and will do the same for you one day.

    • It looks to me like the participants supporting the motion were the ones that let their side down by failing to convince the audience of their case, can you remind me what the outcome was again?

  2. Oh dear crembrule. You have been reading Kathryn too much. The outcome was a decent debate. Nobody won, nobody lost. Fracking is still scheduled, some people are better informed. What’s not to like?

    If you are not married, I suggest you don’t. If you feel someone has to win a discussion it could lead to problems. Jaw, jaw, better than war, war.

    Anyway, I will leave you in peace for the weekend, as I have plans. Have a good one.

    • Oh dear indeed Martin, you would be well advised to put more effort into reading the posts so that you better understand what has been said or asked rather than typing the kneejerk replies you spend so much time on. I didn’t state anyone had won or lost, I asked you to remind me of the outcome of the motion (I’ll remind you if you like – it was rejected by a majority in attendance!). Now that doesn’t sound like much of a debate to me as I would expect a good debate to have a closer outcome where both parties make a strong case, that clearly hasn’t happened.

      Have a good weekend yourself and make sure you come back refreshed so we can start all over again next week.

  3. When will we learn the lessons before the event. Brexit round the corner we need our farming land not home produced questional gas.

  4. Philip P. I want to pick up on the statement you made earlier on this thread. You said “Good that Mike Hill and Frackman could offer direct observations and experience – the former as expert consultant with inside knowledge of Britain’s first fracking effort at Preese Hall (and of Cuadrillas plans for that region), and the latter as a member of the public whose house was impacted by induced seismic activity from PH.”

    These are very bold statements.
    1)Mike Hill. Is Mike hill really an expert consultant on fracking? Is he accredited by the Society of Petroleum Engineers? He may claim quite rightly to be an engineer of some sort, but the appropriate body of engineers regarding Petroleum Engineering – which includes everything to do with well engineering (including devices that are inserted into wells in order to monitor them) as well as methods applied to wells focussed at stimulating oil & gas reservoirs (which includes fracking) is the Society for Petroleum Engineers. You can visit their website here.

    Just so those who do want to go into in depth (excuse the pun) with the weblink, this is a summary about the SPE sets the scene “SPE is the largest individual member organization serving managers, engineers, scientists and other professionals worldwide in the upstream segment of the oil and gas industry.”

    So is Mike Hill an accredited Petroleum Engineer?. He has never claimed so.? So is he, or is he not ? He makes many claims about his credentials, but not this one. That is rather strange. Don’t you think? He may be accredited. I doubt it though.

    This is the SPE’s code of conduct for their accredited members. ” which says

    Code of Conduct
    SPE Professionals are to exhibit the highest standards of competency, honesty, integrity, and impartiality; and are fair and equitable; and accept a personal responsibility for adherence to applicable laws, the protection of the environment, and safeguarding the public welfare in their professional actions and behavior. These principles govern professional conduct in serving the interests of the public, clients, employers, colleagues, and the profession.
    SPE Professionals:
    Offer services in the areas of their competence and experience affording full disclosure of their qualifications.

    Consider the consequences of their work and societal issues pertinent to it and seek to extend public understanding of those relationships.

    Are honest, truthful, ethical, and fair in presenting information and in making public statements reflecting on colleagues professional matters and their professional role, whether verbal or through printed or electronic media.

    Engage in professional relationships without bias or prejudice based on race, religion, gender, age, ethnicity, national
    origin, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, political affiliation, or disability.

    Act in professional matters for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees by not disclosing without consent, or taking improper advantage of, anything of a proprietary or confidential nature concerning the business affairs or technical processes of any present or former client or employer.

    Disclose to affected parties known or potential conflicts of interest or other circumstances which might influence-or appear to influence-judgment or impair the fairness or quality of their performance.

    Are responsible for enhancing their professional competence throughout their careers, for promoting others to advance their learning and competence, and not falsely obtaining competency credentials through misrepresentation of experience or misconduct.

    Accept responsibility for their actions; seek and acknowledge criticism of their work; offer honest and constructive criticism of the work of others; properly credit the contributions of others; and do not accept credit for work that is not their own work.

    When perceiving a consequence of their professional duties to adversely affect the present or future public health and safety shall formally advise their employers or clients, and subordinates and, if warranted, consider further disclosure to appropriate parties.

    Seek to adopt technical and economic measures to render potentially adverse impacts to environment or the health, safety, and security of the public as low as reasonably practicable.

    Act in accordance with all applicable laws and the canons of ethics as applicable to the practice of engineering as stated in the laws and regulations governing the practice of engineering in their country, territory, or state, and lend support to others who strive to do likewise.

    Do not engage to offer or accept bribes or facilitate payments, either directly or indirectly, not only in compliance with anti-bribery laws but also in maintenance of high professional and ethical standards.
    — Approved by the Board of Directors February 25, 1985
    — Revised by the Board of Directors September 26, 2004
    — Revised by the Board of Directors September 19, 2010
    — Revised by the Board of Directors September 29, 2013
    Violation of the SPE Code of Conduct may result in non-compliance filed with the SPE Conduct Review Committee, and the Committee can recommend actions that may include no penalty, to give a warning, to suspend the member’s SPE membership for a set period, or to permanently expel the member from SPE membership.

    What’s all this about Mike Hill’s “Insider Knowledge” about Preese Hall. Has Mike Hill violated confidentiality agreements, or sought information from someone from within Cuadrilla?? The Preese Seismic event was openly published by Cuadrilla and an independent study. Can you explain the “Insider KnowledgeMike” especially since you attribute to Mike Hill something he may never have actually claimed? Is that fair on Mike Hill, or has he only used publicly available information – and thus not an inside source??

    2) You attribute the following to Mr Frcakman – whose name is changed by deed pole “as a member of the public whose house was impacted by induced seismic activity from PH”. Now I have no idea whether Mr Frackman makes that claim, but your attributing it to him. It is a serious claim, and if true is a very important peice of evidence. So can you, or Mr Frackman expand on how his house was impacted? If damage was done, did Mr Frackman’s insurers seek damages from Cuadrilla, and if they did on what evidence? I’m really interested to know. Can you help verify this claim???

    [Name corrected at poster’s request]

    • As a professional governed by professional codes of practice not related to this matter I might add, It is interesting how when these types of discussion occur we wheel out these type of rhetoric in an attempt to try gag someone please offer constructed debate not ridicule. Hence why whistle blowers system are required.

    • Hello Nick

      Your query is very lengthy but with time available I’d just like to say that I haven’t made up these ‘claims’ as you have chosen to put it. The credentials of Mike Hill can be investigated by anyone and it may be best if you enter into correspondence with himself if you want to know more. I don’t have worries about his knowledge and experience or integrity from what I’ve seen or gathered from his presentations or published reports or any doubts that he is indeed a chartered engineer and member of the IET with considerable experience of the oil/gas industry.

      Likewise for Frackman, I saw documentary evidence of a walk-thru of the damage to his house. It was minor in appearance but that may not have revealed less obvious structural concerns pending further investigation. Why don’t you ask him where things stand at present with that? On a recent Question Time, held not far from Preese Hall, David Dimbleby asked the audience how many felt the quakes from the Cuadrilla operation. Nine people put their hands up … may not seem like a lot but then the QT audience was probably just a small cross section of that population.

      • Oh yes, there were your supplementary Mike Hill points …

        No offence but I have to query whether you (maybe) read too quickly or are predisposed to making assumptions and leaping to conclusions. Having misread my name you later include a quote of (presumed) “insider knowledge” of Mike Hill where I actually said “inside knowledge”. Semantics I know but it’s a bit of a twist that you’re wanting to put on what I’ve said it seems – sharing of ‘insider’ knowledge carries a certain legal weight whereas I was simply referring to someone who had had discussions with directors and planners at Cuadrilla and also had knowledge of the chemical analysis of the well products and of the structural damage suffered by the related seismic activity. In an interview he was very clear about the boundaries he could not cross in terms of disclosure.

        I take your point about the Society for Petroleum Engineers but I simply don’t believe there is, or should be, just one ultimate authority and measure of all things to do with fracking (and everything that goes along with it).

  5. Interesting debate, though emotional. It is true that most of the safety issues can be dealt with. The Royal Society report shows this. The process of extracting shale gas takes place so far underground that it cannot affect things on the surface. ‘Leaving a toxic legacy’ is an unfounded accusation. Most chemicals use are no more toxic than those under the kitchen sink.

  6. Philip P, Thank you for your reply. I never accused you of making the claims up. I just asked for verification/evidence. I know that Mike Hill is a member of the IET, but not the same as being a member of the SPE – which is the professional body for engineering in the upstream hydrocarbon industry. Of course you are entitled to your opinion about Mr Hill’s experience . Regarding the alleged damage to Mr Frackman’s house. He may well sincerely believe his house was damaged – but many houses have superficial damage which is nothing to do with earthquakes. It requires a forensic investigation on small cracks to constrain whether they predate the Preese Hall. Similar approach has been made regarding allegations of structural damage in London attributed to the of Cross rail.

    The weight of evidence is that a 2.3ML quake is highly unlikely to cause structural damage to property. You can see the indpendent DECC report here.

    In that report the following is stated ” A conservative estimate of the minimum size of earthquake that could cause damage is
    2.6 ML, based on German standards. This should be the maximum allowable limit for
    seismic activity.”

    This report summarises its key findings. The key findings of their studies are as follows:
    1. The earthquake activity was caused by direct fluid injection into an adjacent fault zone during
    the treatments. The fluid injection reduced the normal stress on the fault, causing it to fail
    repeatedly in a series of small earthquakes. The fault location is yet to be identified.
    2. The Bowland Shale is a heterogeneous, relatively impermeable, stiff and brittle rock.
    3. Bedding is pronounced throughout the reservoir and the structural dip of the bedding is
    variable and high. The bedding planes have low shear strength and show signs of previous
    4. Stresses are anisotropic and the in-situ stress regime is strike-slip. The difference between
    the maximum and minimum horizontal stresses is high and the orientation of maximum
    horizontal stress agrees with the regional stress orientation.
    5. The maximum likely magnitude resulting from a similar treatment is estimated as 3.0 ML. An
    event of this size is not expected to present a significant hazard.
    6. There is a very low probability of other earthquakes during future treatments of other wells.
    7. The injected volume and flow-back timing are an important controlling factor in the level of
    seismicity, as evidenced from the lack of seismicity during and after stage 3.
    8. The potential for upward fluid migration is considered low. In the worst case, fluid could
    migrate along the fault plane, but this would be limited due to the presence of impermeable
    formations above the Bowland shale.
    9. Though some casing collapse was found in the lower reservoir section, well integrity has not
    been compromised.

    On the last point I have had to repeatedly had to correct Mr Hill and others, in public, that Preese Hall did not leak, and the well integrity was not compromised.

    • On 17/10/2011 (after Preese Hall) an email from HSE contains the following

      “Cuadrilla were looking for guidance on when a cement bond log was required and who was responsible for the interpretation of the logs

      Once they finally got told they had to do one

      Cuadrilla to HSE

      “From our 5.5 inch bond log we have identified some questionable cement bonds”

      Not very reassuring information from the company who state they have years of experience in this field.

  7. A very strange experience and audience, the more Mike Hill preached death and destruction, the louder the audience clapped and cheered.

  8. I can only respond to the event as documented here by Ruth’s record of the proceedings, which I take to be fairly accurate. Must say it appears that Mike Hill does go over the top in a few places, trying to push a few emotional trigger points. It may be that having adopted the whistle blower role there’s a danger of reasonable cause for alarm tipping into alarmism.

    On the other hand there does need to be an antidote to the lies and deception that has been practiced by the fossil fuel lobbyists over time and a degree of polarisation is inevitable. What I am personally interested in is how you debate the middle ground where factual information can be circulated honestly and transparently, without it being seen as a weakness in a ‘sitting on the fence’ sort of way. I will go on the offensive though if I see arguments being presented in an unnecessarily abusive or disingenuous way.

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