Guest post: Third Energy discusses new North Yorks fracking well with police but not the community

fracking KM Eddie Thornton

Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton fracking site in North Yorkshire. Photo: Eddie Thornton

By Russell Scott and Melissa Jones of Spinwatch.

Fracking firm Third Energy met  North Yorkshire Police in February 2018 and discussed plans for a second shale gas well at its controversial KMA site in Kirby Misperton, new documents reveal. 

A meeting log, released by the North Yorkshire Police (NYP) in response to a series of freedom of information requests, confirms that Third Energy intends to drill a new well in Kirby Misperton in 2019.

The well has been given the name ‘KM9’ and could be the first full fracked well in North Yorkshire if granted approval. Third Energy had not previously made public or shared these plans with its Kirby Misperton Community Liaison Group, with whom it is supposed to be ‘transparent and open’.

The NYP ‘Operation Kingfisher’ meeting log noted:

“TE are intending on drilling a new well on the KMA pad that will be called KM9, and this will be a horizontal drill and a full frack to tap into the shale gas reserves.”

NYP also noted at the meeting, which was held at Third Energy’s Knapton Generating Station, that:

“The KM8 frack is a test frack to see if the gas reserves down there are commercially viable. TE state that the drilling of KM9 won’t be until 2019 due to the delays at KM8.”

Spinwatch previously reported on the close relationship that has developed between North Yorkshire Police and Third Energy. This has seen NYP counter-terrorism officers advising on the firm’s KM8 fracking site and both parties sharing information about anti-fracking campaign groups. Policing of the site since 2016 has cost  over £669,000. It has also been criticised for its disproportionate heavy-handedness against protestors.

171110 KM KMPG

Green Party co-leader, Jonathan Bartley, removed from the KM8 site gate, November 2017. Photo: Kirby Misperton Protection Camp

News that the police and the fracking firm continue to discuss public interest matters behind closed doors is likely to worsen already strained community relations in North Yorkshire.

In recent months, Third Energy had to halt its planned test frack at Kirby Misperton after a delay to gain consent from the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy.

The Secretary of State, Greg Clark, said Third Energy must prove ‘financial resilience’ before fracking can start at KM8 – the same site of the proposed new KM9 well.

The latest set of accounts for 2016, published three months late by Third Energy, revealed the fracking firm had lost £3.4 million that year. It owed £48.1m to Third Energy’s holding company in the Cayman Islands, up from £44.4m in 2015 and £40.6m in 2014.

This raises questions over Third Energy’s ability to finance both the KM8 test frack and the new horizontally drilled ‘KM9’ well planned for 2019.

Spinwatch approached North Yorkshire Police early last week for comment about the KM9 disclosure. It finally responded in an email late Friday afternoon:

“We can confirm that we wish to add nothing further to our email dated 17 April 2018 in which we provided you with the initial disclosure.”

Yet just hours before Spinwatch received NYP’s statement, Rosemary Drummond from Third Energy sent an email ‘update’ to the Community Liaison Group (CLG) for the Kirby Misperton site. The group includes local councillors and resident representatives from Kirby Misperton, surrounding villages and parish councils. Its purpose is ‘to build an open and constructive relationship between the local community and Third Energy’.

Ms Drummond’s email to the CLG, which first briefed members on two other issues, stated:

“Finally, some non-news may appear on social media in the next week or so as the result of a Freedom of Information request to North Yorkshire Police (NYP). We have always said that, after a successful frac of KM8, we would be looking to drill and frac a horizontal well as part of the appraisal of the shale gas resource.

“As we already have permission to drill and test a second well on the KMA well site extension, it has always been a strong possibility that “KM9” might be that horizontal well. Although, at this stage, we have no firm plans, we did brief NYP that this could be a future possibility. So, despite how the FOI requester may choose to position this information, this is not a new proposal for a well but an option for making use of an existing consent. As you will recall, we are seeking to extend consent for all our well sites in the Vale of Pickering until 2035 and application NY/2018/0107/73A covers the upper part of the KMA well site.”

The ‘terms of reference’ for the community liaison group include a commitment to facilitate a “two-way channel between the local community and project team’ and for Third Energy to be ‘transparent and open”.

However, minutes from meetings in March 2018 and April 2018 make no reference to the new KM9 well despite Third Energy being asked questions about ongoing and future work at the Kirby Misperton site.

This latest revelation of more closed briefings between the NYP force and Third Energy will further strain relations with local residents and the CLG, who have both also expressed their concerns over policing at the fracking site.

The CLG’s minutes from November 2017  reveal that NYP declined the group’s request for a face-to-face briefing.

This Guest Post is an edited version of a post which first appeared on Spinwatch


13 replies »

  1. So after failing to tell the local community about gas leaks until many hours later, failing to stick to traffic management plan, Third Energy now cosies up and undermines the integrity of the Police, both of whom fail to be open with the local community. And who pays for the police to uphold the law? We the taxpayers and local residents. The individual policemen and women are on the whole people of integrity, who rely on the trust and cooperation of the local community to their job of fighting crime. This secret liaison fundamentally undermines the trust we place on the police to act in our best interests, instead of the interests of a private corporation whose activities threaten our health environment tranquil countryside, and large scale industrialisation of our countryside.

    • Well well, Third Enemy have blown their community liaison cover yet again? And with the police of all people? That displays a compromised cosy little relationship that will run and run. Do I spy another false flag a flapping in the wings? That’s two, how many more?

      Far too reminiscent of earlier 20th century times?

  2. So, if KM8 doesn’t produce a commercial response, KM9 is unlikely to happen. If KM8 does produce a commercial response then it is only reasonable for TE, who have the authorisation to drill and test another well on the site, to say “hey ho, let’s not bother.” (That was ironic.) Hmmm, this does seem to fall into the bracket of much ado about nothing, so let’s try the conspiracy route.

    Know what? If my wife tries a new recipe and we don’t like it, she doesn’t make that dish again. If it is a success, she does as long as she has the ingredients. Shock, horror.

    I seem to remember the business is for sale. Wonder how they might achieve the best return?

  3. Can somebody clarify? Is KM9 to be the horizontal fracked extension to KM8, OR, is KM9 to be a new vertical drill followed by a horizontal extension to be fracked? If the latter, why has the decision not to frack the former been made? If the former then am I alone in thinking that TE are being less than transparent or honest? Or is it the case that this is simply a project which assumes that before commencement KM8 will have been successfully fracked? I’m puzzled: perhaps this is the point!

  4. KM9 is a new well to be drilled specifically as a shale gas well. It will be drilled to a different bottomhole location and include a horizontal secion in the shale which will be hydraulically fracture stimulated. It will have a different wellhead to KM8 but be from the pad it has planning permission for which is probably the KM8 pad. TE will not have any firm detail on this new well yet as the target location, orientation will be somewhat dependent on the results of KM8.

    It would appear that any KM9 well is totally dependent on successful flow rates / data from the existing KM8 well which is waiting for permission to be hydraulically fracture stimulated. No doubt this permission is pending the results of the PNR Cuadrilla wells.

    KM10 – 3000 will depend on KM8 and KM9 results….

    • Minions……”Bottomhole”….he he he”

      Just about sums up the Third NME KM8/KM9 debacle doesn’t it?

      A ” bottomhole” operation indeed.

      • Showing your experience i this industry yet again Phil C…. I expect those living near KM take this a bit more seriously?

        • Whoops! Someone’s been sucking lemmings again?

          Showing your experience with what people really think of Third NME Paul, or perhaps it is something that you do not?

          People do indeed take the issue of KM8/KM9 very seriously, but not frankly when Third NME are such a joke to everyone, even their own shareholders and funders, and that is how they see them. A little humour goes a long way, further than Third NME anyway?

          No doubt this attempt to boost the share price is intended to lead to another owner? Now that will be interesting wont it?

          When we both know as much as each other Paul, we still wont know anything unless we recognise the humanity in everyone and love in everything.

    • ‘KM10 – 3000 will depend on KM8 and KM9 results….’

      I thought the company was in financial meltdown and all the kit had left the site.

      Easy to talk the talk to try and rally support.

      8 years of no one walking the walk.

      Dream on

  5. And. iaith, if they drill KM9 and it is successful, will they extend KM9 to an octopus, and will that then be 8, or will it still be 1?? I suspect TE don’t yet know any of the best options going that far forward, but will be planning different possibilities.

    My guess, is that KM8 will determine what happens after-as indicated by TE. Apart from that, my further guess is that they would not be allowed to do KM9 until they can show it is justified from results at KM8. All speculation, but that’s what this topic is, at the moment.

    In respect of why KM8 has not been fracked yet then obviously TE have the task of showing financial robustness-but I believe that is a bit of a smoke screen. I have posted before that IMO they will not be allowed to frack KM8 until Cuadrilla have fracked their well (or two) at PNR.

    Somewhat risk adverse, the current lot at Parliament, but probably the right way to go. Make sure the sappers have done their job right, before any more are allowed to venture forward!

  6. Oh my, this is tedious.

    Here’s a prediction and something that I bet Third haven’t event told the cops, the evil capitalist monsters: assuming the results of KM8 are positive and this is followed by a positive results from a “KM9” well, Third Energy will drill even more wells and maybe even look to get permission for production at some point. It’s almost as if they’re an E&P company or something.

    I see both this site and Spinwatch are funded by the Joseph Rowntree Trust. I also note that Mr Scott associates himself with two Frack Free groups on his twitter page.

    This isn’t investigative journalism, it’s an agenda motivated hack job which, I suspect, the vast majority of people will spot from some distance.

    Keep up the good work!

    [Moderator] DrillOrDrop no longer receives funding from the Joseph Rowntree Trust [/Moderator]

  7. Boosting the share price really will be interesting!!

    Bless-confusion reigns rather than Confucius.

    (You are forgiven, PhilipP. It seems there is widespread difficulty accepting who owns this company. Or perhaps without that part of the narrative, the greedy investor motivation is lost?)

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