Daily headlines

September 2019 headlines

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Campaigners at rally outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site near Blackpool, 31 August 2019. Photo: Refracktion

Will the suspension of fracking at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site be lifted this month after a record-breaking earth tremor?

Or will shale exploration in the Fylde region of Lancashire face another long delay?

DrillOrDrop will be reporting on calls for a permanent ban and following developments at Preston New Road.

Also in September, we’ll report on a challenge to Cuadrilla’s injunction against anti-fracking protests, the expected decision on UKOG’s drilling plans at Horse Hill in Surrey and West Lancashire Council’s vote on Aurora’s fracking proposals.

You can keep up with the news here with our digest of headlines about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas, updated daily.

Click here for headlines from previous months. Please let us know if we’ve missed something important contact@DrillOrDrop.com

Top headlines

  • Suspended jail terms and £70,000 costs for campaigners found in contempt of court for breaching Cuadrilla protest injunction
  • Threat of £85,000 costs freezes environmental organisation out of court challenge to fracking injunction
  • Fracking tremors continue as data shows strongest seismic events follow Cuadrilla’s final frack
  • Oil & Gas Authority announces investigation into Cuadrilla’s fracking tremors
  • Cuadrilla receives official warning over breaches of environmental permit on groundwater monitoring
  • Riverstone Holdings and Kerogen – investors in Cuadrilla – said to be looking to sell
  • Approval of UKOG plans to produce oil at Horse Hill for 20 years but campaigners seek judicial review
  • Ryedale council votes to extend fracking moratorium indefinitely
  • West Lancashire votes in 16 minutes to oppose Aurora’s fracking plans
  • Cuadrilla announces no more fracking before end of November
  • Initial assessment of damage from Cuadrilla’s fracking tremor made by office staff
  • Drilling begins at Horse Hill
  • Thousands take part in climate marches

30 September 2019

No more UK fracking in 2019 as Cuadrilla runs out of time after record-breaking tremor. DrillOrDrop report on demobilisation of fracking equipment from Preston New Road. BBC News (Fracking: Cuadrilla removes equipment from Lancashire site); Independent (Fracking equipment removed from Cuadrilla site after operations suspended: ‘Work at this site could soon be at an end’); CityAm (Cuadrilla: More fracking this year in Lancashire unlikely after earthquake); The Times (Cuadrilla ends 2019 fracking plans); Blackpool Gazette (Lancashire fracking firm Cuadrilla to test for gas from second well, but actual fracking will not start before planning permission runs out); Upstream Online (Cuadrilla to demobilise fracking equipment in northern England); Preston Hub (Cuadrilla ‘excited’ as fracking equipment seen leaving Preston New Road site); Reuters (Cuadrilla to test second UK shale gas well in a few weeks); 

New oil drilling underway at Horse Hill. DrillOrDrop report on spudding of HH-2 well, Upstream Online, Proactive Investors

29 September 2019

Public protests against fracking could doom Conservatives in marginal seats, says Yorkshire academic. The Yorkshire Post reports on comments by Dr Simon Sweeney at a Conservative conference fringe meeting. He said government plans to create a gas supply based on fracking will lead to “overwhelming” public protests that will do “incredible damage” to Conservatives in marginal seats. Ends Report (30/9/2019)

27 September 2019

Many complaints about “unfair” and “biased” BBC programme on Balcombe anti-fracking protests. DrillOrDrop report

26 September 2019

Cuadrilla sent office staff to check property damage from UK’s biggest fracking earth tremor. DrillOrDrop investigation into how Cuadrilla is assessing damage claims from the August bank holiday tremor

25 September 2019

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Campaigners to seek legal challenge to fight consent for Horse Hill oil production in Surrey. DrillOrDrop report

More fracking needed to understand risk – earthquake expert tells scientific meeting. DrillOrDrop report

Angus Energy gives notice of extended well test plans at Balcombe in West Sussex. DrillOrDrop report, Morning Star

24 September 2019

Horse Hill drill rig delivered – drilling to start shortly, says UKOG. DrillOrDrop report, Proactive Investors

Decision delayed again on UKOG oil drilling plans for Dunsfold, Surrey. DrillOrDrop report

Labour set to commit to net zero emissions by 2030. The Guardian reports on Labour’s backing for a Green New Deal, including a fixed date for net zero emissions, nationalising the big six energy firms and a guarantee of green jobs.

Oil industry refuses to back away from fossil fuels. The FT reports on a meeting of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative – 13 companies representing more than 30% of global oil and gas production. The article quotes Carbon Tracker which has said the sector has approved $50bn investments that undercut climate targets since last year.

Climate change bill must be tougher on tackling emissions, say Greens. Energy Voice reports that Green MSPs in the Scottish Parliament will not back climate change legislation unless ministers set tougher targets for curbing greenhouse gases.

Activists read climate science report to parliament. Campaigners from 1.5 Degrees Live and Stop Climate Chaos are to read aloud the landmark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at the entrance to the Scottish Parliament. The report says action is needed urgently in the next 10 years to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.

Borough councillors must have ‘final say’ over fracking. The Warrington Guardian reports on the approval of a Lib Dem motion opposing government proposals to change planning rules for shale gas development. The motion said local authorities and residents were “best placed” to make decisions throughout the planning process.

23 September 2019

Youth climate campaigners issue demands to leading councillor in Lancashire. DrillOrDrop report

Union Jack Oil publishes half year results to June 2019. The results show increased operating losses (£486,609 compared with £419,991 for the equivalent period in 2018). Revenue was up slightly and there was a big increase in total assets (£8,982,451 compared with £5,556,839 in 2018). Proactive Investors, Morning Star, Shares Magazine

Lib Dems want council to oppose changes to fracking regulations. Warrington Worldwide reports that the borough council is to debate a motion opposing government proposals to make non-fracking shale gas schemes permitted development, without the need for a full planning application.

22 September 2019

“Environment Agency no longer able to regulate fracking – Labour.” Also comments on fracking protest injunctions, the connections of climate change and plastics waste, and communities left in limbo by fast-track fracking proposals. DrillOrDrop report

20 September 2019

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Climate strikers in Glasgow, 20 September 2019. Photo: Leda Bartolucci

Huge crowds turn out for UK climate strikes. DrillOrDrop photo post, Blackpool Gazette (24/9/2019)

 19 September 2019

EA report chart

Methane concentrations at KMA. Source: Environment Agency

Methane spiked at 40+ times average levels during work on Third Energy gas site at Kirby Misperton, monitoring report reveals. DrillOrDrop article

UN urged to back global fracking ban as millions prepare to join climate protests. DrillOrDrop report, Guardian

Rathlin Energy’s West Newton oil and gas site in East Yorkshire cleared.

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Rathlin Energy’s West Newton oil and gas site in East Yorkshire, 19 September 2019. Photo: West Newton Gateway to the Gasfields

18 September 2019

Cuadrilla fracking suspension to continue during investigation – government minister. DrillOrDrop report

Why are local authorities going against UK government on fracking? Dr Sarah Mander, writing for Manchester University, reviews decisions on fracking applications and the role of shale gas in tackling climate change.

17 September 2019

Anti-fracking group protested outside Barclays in Retford. The Worksop Guardian reports that members of Bassetlaw Socialist Forum called on Barclays customers to close their bank accounts.

16 September 2019

Fears as oil well testing set to start in small village. The Argus reports on previously announced plans by Angus Energy to test the oil well at Balcombe. The company has to secure planning permission from West Sussex County Council before work can start.

Loan conversion. UK Oil & Gas plc announces that Riverfort Global Opportunities PCC and YA II PN Ltd have converted £600,000 of its loan into UKOG shares. The loan’s balance is now reduced to £4.9m. The creditors now hold an additional 60,926,076 shares.

15 September 2019

Gas is ‘not a low-carbon fuel’, UK watchdog rules. The FT reports that the ASA has said Equinor should not have implied gas was a low carbon source of energy. Business Telegraph

14 September 2019

IGas wins more time for exploration with extension of initial terms in 14th round PEDL licences. DrillOrDrop report

13 September 2019

“Devil-mask” fracking protest planned against Ineos at Tour of Britain. DrillOrDrop report

12 September 2019

Cuadrilla fracked seven times before record-breaking tremor. DrillOrDrop report

Oil storage permitted at West Newton. East Riding of Yorkshire Council grants planning consent for 199 tonnes of crude oil to be stored at Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-A site, north of Hull. Hull Daily Mail

Final site works at Horse Hill. UKOG announces the final site works to accommodate the arrival of drilling rig for HH-2/2z Portland horizontal well were completed yesterday.

11 September 2019

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Campaigners gathering outside Surrey County Council in advance of decision meeting on oil production at Horse Hill, 11 September 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Breaking news: 20 years of oil production at Horse Hill gets permission. Live news updates from the decision meeting. DrillOrDrop report on Surrey County Council planning meeting, Shares Magazine, Morning Star, BBC News, Get Surrey

Horse Hill oil production approved: Campaigners seek legal advice on challenge; “landmark decision”, says company. DrillOrDrop report

Acquisition of Tellurian 35% interest in Horse Hill. UK Oil & Gas plc announces it has completed the acquisition of Magellan Petroleum’s investment in Horse Hill from Tellurian for £12m in cash and UKOG shares. This increases UKOG’s stake in Horse hill from 50.635% to a controlling 85.635%.

Fracking site visit before planners make a decision about West Lancashire development. The Lancashire Evening Post reports that before making a decision, Lancashire County Council’s planning committee is to make a visit to the site at Altcar Moss, where Aurora Energy Resources wants to drill and frack two wells.

Greens’ new peer Natalie Bennett vows to carry on protesting. The Guardian reports that the former Green Party leader aims not to get too at home in the House of Lords after receiving a peerage in Theresa May’s resignation honours.

10 September 2019

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Extinction Rebellion protest outside Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road near Blackpool, 10 September 2019. Photo: Extinction Rebellion

Boat blocks Cuadrilla’s fracking site in climate protest. DrillOrDrop report, Manchester Evening News, Lancs Live News, ITV News, Blackpool Gazette, Energy Live News, Guardian

Councillor hopes for no ‘fun, frolics and fracking’ on Somerset beach as ban moves closer. Somerset Live reports that Sedgemoor District Council discussed on 9 September a motion to ban fracking on its area of the Somerset coast. The council’s community scrutiny committee was addressed by Frack Free Exmoor Quantocks Sedgemoor. The full council could approve a ban in October.

9 September 2019

Planners back 15 months of drilling and 20 years of oil production in Surrey green belt. DrillOrDrop report

MP reiterates fracking ban call at meeting. The Blackpool Gazette reports that Fylde MP Mark Menzies repeated his call for an indefinite suspension of hydraulic fracturing in the area during a meeting with the Oil & Gas Authority. Mr Menzies said:

“[The OGA] have reiterated that they continue to look at the situation very closely and will be evaluating significant data made available through the regulatory framework which we campaigned for.”

Angus Energy shareholder meeting and presentation. Angus Energy announces a meeting for shareholders on 30 September 2019 at 5.30pm, at 1 America Square, 17 Crosswall, London EC3N 2LB.

7 September 2019

Don’t approve Aurora’s fracking plan, government wildlife expert warns. DrillOrDrop report on Natural England’s response to Altcar Moss application

“Object, object, object”, residents urged over Aurora’s West Lancs fracking plan. DrillOrDrop report on campaign meeting on Altcar Moss fracking application.

6 September 2019

Ryedale council votes to extend fracking moratorium indefinitely. DrillOrDrop report

Cuadrilla Owners Said to Mull Options Including Sale of Company. Bloomberg reports that investors in Cuadrilla, Riverstone Holdings LLC and Kerogen Capital, have hired the Royal Bank of Canada to study ways to cash out of their investment. The story, citing Bloomberg, was repeated in Rigzone and the Times

Oil and gas companies investing £40bn in projects that ‘undermine’ fight against climate change. The Independent reports on a study by Carbon Tracker which found that Shell, BP and ExxonMobil are investing billions I plans that are incompatible with the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5C.

Fracking warning: More investigations needed after 2.9 level Lancashire quake, says expert. The Express reports comments on Cuadrilla’s fracking-induced earth tremors by Dr Richard Porter, of University College London, who said:

“The operational experience in the UK is very limited and we need to proceed with utmost caution, especially considering the sites are located close to populated areas.”

5 September 2019

Cuadrilla warned over three more permit breaches at Preston New Road fracking site. DrillOrDrop report, Blackpool Gazette (6/9/2019)

West Lancs councillors overwhelmingly oppose Aurora Energy Resource’s fracking plans at Great Altcar near Formby. DrillOrDrop report

Estimate that Peterhead CCS project will cost £1 trillionEnergy Voice reports on a call by oil and gas veteran, Sir Ian Wood, for a financial commitment to the CCS project at the St Fergus gas plan near Peterhead. He told the Offshore Europe conference:

“The estimate is that it could cost £1 trillion, it’s a very expensive process.

“Our present prime minister has been suggesting the allocation of all kinds of funds toward the future of the UK and I’m afraid that if they’re really serious, the investment in CCS is going to have to be a significant one.”

‘Devil-masked’ fracking groups plan to protest Ineos at Tour of Britain. Cycling Weekly reports that anti-fracking groups are planning to protest against Ineos at the Tour of Britain by wearing devil masks designed in the likeness of the company’s billionaire owner Jim Ratcliffe. They are expected to target stage eight between Altrincham and Manchester on Saturday 14 September.

4 September 2019

Blackpool MP demands answers after visiting residents alarmed by fracking tremors. The Blackpool Gazette reports on visits by MP Gordon Marsden to homes which the owners say have been damaged by fracking.

Understanding the link between fracking and earthquakes. PhysOrg reports on work by Dalhousie University and University of Calgory which concluded that injection of fracturing fluids can lead to a slow slip on a fault. That can gradually put enough strain on another, distant section of the fault to cause it to slip suddenly and produce an earthquake.

Researchers unearth cost-effective method for finding shale gas. PhysOrg reports on a new method for exploring natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, developed by Penn State researchers, which is said to show potential high yield areas that can be found more easily and with lower costs.

Variation to permit at Horse Hill oil site. The Environment Agency confirms in correspondence that it has permitted the use of oil-based muds for drilling fluids at the site and drilling a sidetrack.

3 September 2019

Suspended jail sentences for first UK anti-fracking campaigners found in contempt of court for breaching protest injunction. DrillOrDrop report, GuardianRightsInfo.org, BBC News

Judge dismisses campaigners’ challenge to Cuadrilla fracking protest injunction. DrillOrDrop report

Terrawatch: warnings fail to prevent UK fracking quakes. The Guardian asks why didn’t the seismicity traffic light system stop the recent fracking-induced tremors near Blackpool?

2 September 2019

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Anti-fracking campaigners outside the injunction hearing at Manchester Civil Justice centre, 2 September 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

“Fracking tremors may vindicate protesters found in contempt of court”. DrillOrDrop report on hearing at High Court on sentencing of three campaigners found guilty of breaching Cuadrilla injunction.

Tremors continue as data shows strongest seismicity followed Cuadrilla’s final frack. DrillOrDrop report

Fracking firm schedules visits to assess if earth tremor from its drill site damaged homes. The Blackpool Gazette reports on Cuadrilla’s statement issued on 31 August 2019 on contacting people who say their homes have been damaged.

Oil & Gas Authority announcement on Preston New Road fracking. A statement from the OGA says:

“Following the recent seismic events at the Preston New Road site, including a 2.9ML event at 08:30am on 26 August, the OGA has written to Cuadrilla on Friday 30 August requesting extensive data and analysis.

“Once provided, this data and analysis will assist the OGA’s full consideration of whether the assumptions and mitigations in Cuadrilla’s PNR 2 Hydraulic Fracture Plan continue to be appropriate to manage the risk of induced seismicity at the Preston New Road site.

“Hydraulic fracturing operations will remain suspended until the OGA’s considerations are complete.”

Reported in Business Green, TimesEnds

Tremors not the only thing shaking fracking’s future. In an editorial, the Yorkshire Post outlines the challenges to fracking.

Fracking in Yorkshire ‘a dead duck’ after Lancashire earthquakes, says leading campaigner. The Yorkshire Post reports comments by Eddie Thornton, about fracking in Yorkshire following tremors caused by Cuadrilla in Lancashire:

“People were very frightened and Cuadrilla have admitted that in their statement.

“I don’t see that any industry causing that much fear has a viable future especially when reserves have been downgraded. I don’t see it happening in Yorkshire. I think fracking is a dead duck.”

1 September 2019

“Price out of justice” – Friends of the Earth forced to withdraw from legal challenge to injunction against protests at Cuadrilla’s fracking site. DrillOrDrop report, Guardian

Shaken out of my complacency: Fracking earthquakes on the Fylde coast. Dr J H Lees, writing on the Talk Fracking website, explains why he realises he does not have the luxury of allowing Cuadrilla time to accept defeat on fracking.

Fracking will see the UK miss net-zero emissions targets. Yorkshire anti-fracking campaigner, David Cragg-James, writing in the Guardian, says fracking exposes communities to harm and contributes to climate change that the government hopes to mitigate. Michael Miller, writing in the same paper, asks why the government is still supporting fracking.


1 reply »

  1. Thank you, Ruth, for your tireless efforts to keep us all informed. It would be very difficult without this facility you so generously offer. Many of us, I know, hope to see an end to the assault on the ‘common weal’ which fracking represents. Even those who don’t clearly value your reporting. A heartfelt ‘thank you’!

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