What to watch in 2019

181230 Tinker Lane Eric Walton 1

Sunset at Tinker Lane, the IGas shale gas site in north Nottinghamshire, 30 December 2018. Photo: Eric Walton

DrillOrDrop’s round-up of the likely action on fracking and onshore oil and gas developments in 2019

Fracking, drilling, testing

pnr 181229 Barbara Cookson

Removal of the top of the coiled tubing tower at Preston New Road, 29 December 2018. Photo: Barbara Cookson

Attention early in 2019 is likely to focus on Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool. The company has fracked one well and reported flows of shale gas. But there is no news on when the extended well test might start or if the second well will be fracked imminently. Equipment has been dismantled and moved off the site in recent weeks.

Under the terms of Cuadrilla’s planning permission, the company has 14 months left in which to drill two more wells and frack three. A condition of the consent, granted by the then local government secretary, Sajid Javid, was that the company must complete drilling and fracking within 30 months of the start of drilling, which began in August 2017.

Will Third Energy frack its well at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire? To date, there has been no public statement that the government has granted final fracturing consent for the KM8 well or that the company has passed its financial resilience test, required in 2018.

IGas has said it will turn its attention to the shale gas exploration site at Misson Springs in north Nottinghamshire after failing to find the Bowland Shale at Tinker Lane nearby. As operations wind down at Tinker Lane, opponents are preparing to move their protest operation to Misson, where IGas has permission for two wells.

181230 Tinker Lane Eric Walton 3

IGas’s Tinker Lane site, where the well failed to find the Bowland Shale, 30 December 2018. Photo: Eric Walton

UKOG and its partners at Horse Hill, in Surrey, are expected to announce the results of flow testing in the Kimmeridge formation. The company has permission to drill two more exploration wells at the site and recently submitted a new application for a further four. At UKOG’s site at Markwells Wood in the South Downs, the company has until 17 January 2019 to remove equipment and materials.

At Brockham, in Surrey, Angus Energy said before Christmas it had begun a Kimmeridge flow test programme. We’ll be reporting on any result from this site and from the short flow test at another Angus Energy site at Balcombe, in West Sussex.

Rathlin Energy began preparations late in 2018 to drill a second well at its West Newton-A site in East Yorkshire. Under the terms of the exploration licence, the well must be drilled by June 2019. Information on the company’s plans is released through a community liaison group. The next meeting is due on 15 January 2019.

South of the Humber, Egdon is expected to drill an oil exploration well at Biscathorpe, before moving on to its site at North Kelsey.

Ineos is expected to begin work at one or both of its shale gas exploration sites at Bramleymoor Lane, Marsh Lane, in Derbyshire, and Common Road, Harthill in south Yorkshire (but see Decisions and challenges). This year is also likely to see seismic testing at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire after the National Trust dropped its refusal to allow Ineos access to the site.

180829 Bramleymoor Lane protest Frances Hopwood

Opposition to Ineos plans for shale gas exploration at Bramleymoor Lane, Marsh Lane, in Derbyshire, 29 August 2018. Photo: Frances Hopwood

Ineos, like the rest of the companies awarded licences in the 14th round, are now half way through the five-year initial, or exploration, stage of their licences, with no wells drilled and permission granted for just two sites. Collectively, these companies have until July 2021 to complete drilling, fracking and testing commitments in their work programmes. The total commitment amounts to:

  • 37 firm commitment vertical wells
  • 14 firm commitment fracked horizontal wells
  • 47 drill or drop wells
  • 3D seismic testing in 15 licence areas
  • 2D seismic testing in 40 licence areas

Changing the rules


181024 Eddie Thornton 3

Photo: Eddie Thornton

Will the industry increase pressure on ministers to relax the seismic traffic light system. These are the rules which require companies to pause fracking for 18 hours if they induce tremors measuring 0.5ML or more? That looks likely following strong hints from both Cuadrilla and Ineos.

Cuadrilla’s two-month fracking operation at Preston New Road triggered 57 seismic events, the largest of which measured 1.5ML and was felt by local people. The company said it had paused fracking five times.

And will the government give way? Claire Perry said in October 2018 it would be “foolish” to change the rules at that stage. But she told The Times for a report published on Boxing Day that “the limits would need to be reviewed when the industry became operational”.

Permitted development

The government is expected to announce the results of a consultation on whether to treat non-fracking shale gas schemes as permitted development, avoiding the need for planning permission. The consultation, which ended in October 2018, also considered a proposal to classify major production sites as nationally significant infrastructure.

Conservative councillors and MPs have opposed the proposals and the government was warned that it could lose its parliamentary majority if the issue went to a vote.

Decisions and challenges

Scottish Parliament 170531 Friends of the Earth Scotland 2

Petition opposing fracking in Scotland. Photo: Friends of the Earth

The Scottish government is expected to finalise its policy against fracking in Spring 2019. This follows a second consultation, which ended in December 2018. The first consultation in 2017 attracted more than 60,000 responses, the vast majority opposing fracking. Ineos and Reach Coal Seam Gas brought a legal challenge the current moratorium but the judge ruled the case was premature because the government’s policy had not been finalised.

Rulings are also expected early in the new year on challenges brought by Friends of the Earth and Talk Fracking on the government’s revised national planning policy framework. They argued at a High Court hearing in December that Mr Brokenshire had acted unlawfully in failing to carry out a strategic environmental impact assessment or consider new scientific evidence.

IGas plans to test its gas well at Ellesmere Port come under scrutiny at a public inquiry, starting on 15 January 2019 in Chester. The refusal of planning permission will be defended by Cheshire West and Chester Council and the campaign group, Frack Free Ellesmere Port and Upton.

A Harthill resident is bringing a judicial review against the decision to grant planning permission to Ineos for its shale gas site in the village. The case will be heard in Leeds on 25 January 2019.

Campaigners are due to challenge injunctions granted to Ineos and UKOG that outlawed specified protests near their sites. The Court of Appeal is expected to hear all the cases in March 2019.

Will Ineos appeal against the refusal of planning permission for shale gas exploration at Dinnington Road in Woodsetts in south Yorkshire? And will Egdon appeal against the latest in a series of refusals for long-term oil production at Wressle near Scunthorpe. Both companies have said they will but so far neither has formally lodged an appeal.

Cuadrilla Roseacre Wood proposed traffic routes

Cuadrilla’s three proposed traffic routes to the Roseacre Wood site near Blackpool. Map: Cuadrilla Resources

A decision is expected early in 2019 from the local government secretary, James Brokenshire, on whether Cuadrilla should get the go-ahead for drilling and fracking up to four wells at Roseacre Wood near Blackpool. An inquiry on the company’s revised traffic management plans was held in April 2018 after a previous planning inspector recommended the scheme should be refused on road safety grounds.


DrillOrDrop will be following the Horse Hill application for long-term oil production and UKOG’s exploration proposals, expected in 2019, for the Isle of Wight. We’ll also be watching what Europa does in Surrey after it pulled out of Leith Hill in 2018, any developments with Third Energy in North Yorkshire, and what happens at Balcombe.

In north west England, we’ll be looking out for Aurora’s application to frack at Altcar Moss near Formby and a fracking proposal for the Ince Marshes in Cheshire by IGas. We’ll also follow the application by the British Geological Survey, submitted just before Christmas, for an underground laboratory at the Ince Marshes.

Please keep in touch

DrillOrDrop is always very grateful for news about the onshore oil and gas industry across the UK. Please let us know about events and key issues that you think we should be reporting on. Contact here

59 replies »

  1. Happy New year Ruth, I predict more pulling out next year as fracking companies go broke and Weald oil companies suffer with well collapses and excess water production.

  2. Thank you to Ruth and Paul and all the team at Frack Off who have made sure all our successes get noticed.

    A well organised community is the best defence against this unwanted and unneeded industry.

    We have shown how strong we were in 2018.

    In 2019 we will be even stronger.

    Happy New Year.

  3. Back in the real world, down in the Weald the oil is coming out of the ground pretty regularly at HH-a bit more than the puddle worth speculated by the anti “expert” and first whiffs of gas from out of the ground at Cuadrilla.

    Cold weather on the way. 30,000 people in UK died in 2018 from illness exacerbated by fuel poverty. Get more out of the ground, use the tax to help reduce that figure rather than donate it to Norway.

    A Happy, and Prosperous, New Year!

  4. “Prove it”!!!???

    No, I don’t need to prove it. The statistics are easily found and are widely accepted as being an under estimate. But do keep on with the total myopic approach to anything that doesn’t support your dogma. Easier than dealing with reality.

    Care for the planet? Don’t think so, when little compassion is shown for others. Better stick with cartoons-they prove a lot-especially when it has just been established that the population are pretty positive about 2019 (YouGov poll.) Mind you, the Greens now down to 3% support, are possibly the exception.

      • New for 2019: Pinocchio myths debunked.

        No. 1 Shale gas and onshore oil and gas will stop people dying due to lack of fuel.

        #1 There is no shortage of fuel in the UK, it’s the price set by those investors who are are baying for more returns to live off the backs of others, or directors who would buy another new car to park in the extended garage [only to look at] or another yacht on the med added to the disgusting policy known as austerity that is preventing the vulnerable in our society from having the basics of life in our culture.

        #2 Fuel poverty is a mythical category to describe one aspect of ‘poor people’ whilst not addressing the issue which has thrown them into real poverty or support them properly when they fall below what used to be termed the ‘bread line’.

        #3 Fuel = Energy, not oil and gas; other energy sources are capable of filling the ‘gap’. Stop wasting gas to produce electricity.

        #4 Fuel poverty and statistics – population in the made up category known as ‘fuel poverty’ –
        Does not include those who choose fuel over food
        Does not include those who cannot afford food and fuel who are helped by caring neighbours, friends and family.
        Does not include those who cannot afford both fuel and food who live with family and friends.
        Does not include those who manage.
        Includes those who have difficulty managing money due to mental heath issues, addiction or family break up.
        Includes wealthy individuals who can no longer afford to heat all the rooms in their mansions.

        So, instead of sitting in your PR office, how about knocking on your vulnerable neighbours door and checking they are okay; help with money, advice and support to get any help they are entitled to?

        Stop demanding excessive returns for your investments/private pensions; there is no such thing as money from nothing.

        Be responsible. Lobby your MP to get off their backside and change the system to support those in poverty, whatever misfortune has put them there…

        Poverty of the many is caused by the greed of a few; balance the system a little and we have a better life for all. [No shale gas, or conventional oil and gas required].

        • Magnificently said Sherwulfe! And thanks for your words. Some of us do not sit behind a PR hotdesk typing out bile and venom from the last methane gasp vestiges of a dying industry!

          I couldn’t have said it better, even in a song!

          Happy New Year to all those who still actually care about others, not just themselves or the frackodile tears shed invisibly by the fossil fuel fool few!

          PS this is sent from my mobile at work on nightshift, because others are still hanging over from 2018!

          Have A Nice Day!

          I feel a song coming on!

            • Oh Dear, Oh Dear, Oh Dear? What do we have here then boys and girls? Has the ranting obsessive intolerant Weird Al sock puppet gone all rabid again?

              What a sad desperate display? Something so awful it is gnawing at its innards we suspect dont we? Oh, yes we do!

              What next? Some bitter ire and intolerant rant against religious minorities all wrapped up in a nasty little dirge song to please the bosses and keep the soiled cheques rolling in?

              Lets see what is barely contained in this noisome bubbling bitter cauldron of arrant nonsense shall we?

              At the risk of soiling these pages yet again with this detritus, i shall quote each line to show what debased drivel Weird Al is reduced to in 2019, much the same as 2018, and prior.

              Well, ready or not? Here we go. Cover your eyes if you dont want to see this verbal bile repeated again, fortunately some of us are made of sterner stuff.

              “I take it you are shers puppet as well as Putins puppet…”

              No Weird Al, unlike you, i am no ones puppet, but your words betray a reflection that such a concept is deep within your own soul, and hence does more to reflect your own condition, as we have seen previously on Drill or Drop, and hence has nothing to do with anyone else but your own culpability and guilt in that respect.

              “What is keeping you warm Phil?”

              At this moment, Weird Al, laughing at such a weak and transparent attempt to portray anyone else in a negative light in order to try and boost that failing miserable miserly ego, so worryingly displayed for all to see here.

              As regards heating in general, i have explained that several times over the last eight years on Drill or Drop, and you will have to go and trawl for that yourself, but you will not like the result, but there again, truth was never exactly your forte was it?

              The link you provide is irrelevant and bizarre? Do you have some financial interest and a payback for advertising perhaps? That would be typical behaviour wouldn’t it?

              “The same as sher???”

              Are you reffering to Sherwulfe? I have no idea, nor is it any of your business (literally) However i recall Sherwulfe has previously said it before, and you will not like that answer either? Awww! Shame!

              Not doing very well are you Weird Al?

              No change there then?

              Sad Weird Al, Very, Very sad!

            • This is just for those who seek to sell us their poison
              and then have the gall to try to tell us how when or where to use it.
              Clearly some dictatorial fantasy of paranoid delusion of inadequacy…..

              You know who you are.

              The Goblin Market
              By Christina Georgina Rosetti

              “We must not look at goblin men,
              We must not buy their fruits:
              Who knows upon what soil they fed
              Their hungry thirsty roots?”

              “Come buy,” call the goblins
              Hobbling down the glen.

              Laugh’d every goblin
              When they spied her peeping:
              Came towards her hobbling,
              Flying, running, leaping,
              Puffing and blowing,
              Chuckling, clapping, crowing,
              Clucking and gobbling,
              Mopping and mowing,
              Full of airs and graces,
              Pulling wry faces,
              Demure grimaces,
              Cat-like and rat-like,
              Ratel- and wombat-like,
              Snail-paced in a hurry,
              Parrot-voiced and whistler,
              Helter skelter, hurry skurry,
              Chattering like magpies,
              Fluttering like pigeons,
              Gliding like fishes,—

              They began to scratch their pates,
              No longer wagging, purring,
              But visibly demurring,
              Grunting and snarling.
              One call’d her proud,
              Cross-grain’d, uncivil;
              Their tones wax’d loud,
              Their looks were evil.
              Lashing their tails
              They trod and hustled her,
              Elbow’d and jostled her,
              Claw’d with their nails,

              Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking,
              Tore her gown and soil’d her stocking,
              Twitch’d her hair out by the roots,
              Stamp’d upon her tender feet,
              Held her hands and squeez’d their fruits
              Against her mouth to make her eat.

              Like a royal virgin town
              Topp’d with gilded dome and spire
              Close beleaguer’d by a fleet
              Mad to tug her standard down.

              One may lead a horse to water,
              Twenty cannot make him drink.
              Though the goblins cuff’d and caught her,
              Coax’d and fought her,
              Bullied and besought her,
              Scratch’d her, pinch’d her black as ink,
              Kick’d and knock’d her,
              Maul’d and mock’d her,
              Lizzie utter’d not a word;
              Would not open lip from lip
              Lest they should cram a mouthful in:
              But laugh’d in heart to feel the drip
              Of juice that syrupp’d all her face,
              And lodg’d in dimples of her chin,
              And streak’d her neck which quaked like curd.

              At last the evil people,
              Worn out by her resistance,
              Flung back her penny, kick’d their fruit
              Along whichever road they took,
              Not leaving root or stone or shoot;
              Some writh’d into the ground,
              Some div’d into the brook
              With ring and ripple,
              Some scudded on the gale without a sound,
              Some vanish’d in the distance.

              Would talk about the haunted glen,
              The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men,
              Their fruits like honey to the throat
              But poison in the blood;

        • You’re argument is totally flawed…

          #3 Fuel = Energy, not oil and gas; other energy sources are capable of filling the ‘gap’. Stop wasting gas to produce electricity.

          Go on then sher don’t keep us guessing, what are these energy sources that will fill the gap??????????????????

          Right now wind producing 4% of our energy needs… Gas 60%…

          Can you make the wind blow sher????????????????????

          To be honest all over the holiday season renewables have been pretty useless, no greens posting figures…

          What’s keeping you warm sher????????????????????????

  5. What’s to watch in 2019???
    My list….
    1. Games of Throne.
    2. Brexit vote.
    3. Cuadrilla flow test (if any gas at all)

    50. Phil C songs

    • Or a different take on your 1,2,3… In 2019…
      1. Winter is coming, Gas central heating on…
      2. U.K needs to stop importing Gas from Europe, different legal responsibilities by Europe with regard to sharing energy after March
      3. Thank God for British shale Gas…

      50. Phil C spends more time at work to pay for importing foreign Gas and hasn’t time to write songs…

  6. Just a note to point out that U.K. wholesale electrcitity prices are currently peaking at over £100 mgwhr partly due to low wind and solar production.

    Currently gas is generating 57% of our electricity.

    The next week or so, if the high pressure persists, will test the market and see how much prices rise and how much coal is drawn into the supply stack due to high gas prices.

    You can follow how things are going at Gridwatch (real time Nat Grid data) or (electricity trading).

      • Wind and solar only able to produce a smidge over 6%. That’s why Gas is keeping the Country going as you have so eloquently pointed out…

          • sher, even you don’t believe that. Are you just leaving that out there in the hope nobody will come back?

            Even the statement, 10 X more?

            How much?

            What about right now wind only producing 4% of our energy needs. Try 20 X more…

            Totally ridiculous…

            Let’s say you have burdened the consumer with 10 times the subsidies to support these

            Then tomorrow the wind didn’t blow, then the next day, then the next day. Where are you going to get the energy from???

            WHAT HEATS YOUR HOME SHER????????????????????????????????????????????

        • “We must not look at goblin men,
          We must not buy their fruits:
          Who knows upon what soil they fed
          Their hungry thirsty roots?”

          • Phil remind me and the board, what heats your home? A quick sentence. We know Sher is a big advocate of shipping plastic panels from China. This time of year solar isn’t exactly the provider of choice…

            • Obsession! Obsession! Al is Obsession!

              Well Weird Al, first provide substantiated proof of these little PR gems of yours that you pour out with such worryingly obsessive ranting abandon when stuck for something actually intelligent to say?

              “I take it you are shers puppet as well as Putins puppet…”

              “50. Phil C spends more time at work to pay for importing foreign Gas and hasn’t time to write songs…”

              And while you are about it, explain to everyone “on the board” whatever that is, how mirrors work? That always makes me laugh!

              And then when you have grovelled enough, explain your obsession with Ian R Crane, but apparently not on any reference to fracking matters? Odd that?

              And then you could explain “to the board” why Standard Oil/Exxon/Mobil et el supplied fuel to U-Boats throughout the Second World War and leaded fuel for the German war machine throughout at the same time?

              And then explain why Exxon and Shell supressed the evidence from their own scientists in the 1970’s and 1980’s that reliance on fossil fuels will have irreparably damaged the earths climate, and why they are still fighting that release of scientific data in the courts today?

              And then explain why this corrupted government and the fossil fuel industry are continuing to subject this planet to more fossil fuel insanity in spite of all the overwhelming evidence to prove that fossil fuels are poisoning the planet?

              Then explain why they and you are not pushing for all the renewable alternatives that have been starved of funds and investment that could and will replace fossil fuels for the foreseeable future?

              And then you can explain why you are so obsessed with something that only requires some actual effort on your behalf and what is the definition of a lazy obsessive that will not do his own research?

              When you have satisfactorily answered those and any other questions I may think of later, depending upon how honest and grovelling your replies are on every issue, i may, or may not answer your question, but don’t hold your breath, oh but, go on, do hold your breath, well, at least not for too long, ya hear?

              I recon that will hold you until around 2021 or longer, and by then such questions and answers may be academic because by then there will be no fossil fuel fracking foolery in UK and you will be far better employed on something more ethical and with any luck if you play your house of cards right, a little wiser than destroying the planet?

              This was fun!

              That’s all you get!

              Happy researching!

              Come back in 2, 3, 4, or more years, and I might even be nice to you?

              Well….maybe not.

              [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

            • It seems Kishy’a avatar has turned red with anger; breath Kishy…
              What are you gonna do when the gas runs out, eh?

  7. Hi Paul

    Phil C gets to go on 2 page rants about U boat conspiracy and Ian R Crane and I can’t reply?

    A 100% fact about Ian R Crane tonight is he is being kept alive using Gas in his plastic caravan in these freezing conditions. Burning Gas not out of choice but out of pure survival…

    Thought this site was about facts? Just replying to Phil…

    • “We must not look at goblin men,
      We must not buy their fruits:
      Who knows upon what soil they fed
      Their hungry thirsty roots?”

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